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17 Absolute Best Day Trips from London (+ How to Visit, Top Tours & Map)

By Author Jurga

Posted on Last updated: January 10, 2024

17 Absolute Best Day Trips from London (+ How to Visit, Top Tours & Map)

London is an amazing city with so much to offer that you could spend weeks and still not see it all. But in addition to all the top sights and attractions in the city itself , there are also so many beautiful places near London, many of which can easily be visited as a day trip from London.

However, with such an array of possibilities, how do you choose the very best day trips from London that are worth your time the most?

In this article, we feature the absolute best places that you can visit as a one-day trip from London, England . This guide includes all the ‘musts’, the very best day trip destinations near London for first-time visitors, but also for local travelers who want to (re)discover some of the most popular sights near London.

In addition, for each place, we include recommendations on how to visit on your own and also the best day tours from London . Because even though you can visit many of these places by train, often, you will be able to see so much more if you go on an organized tour.

Many tours combine several major landmarks in one day, allowing you to make the most of your time and see a lot in a short time. Furthermore, going with a local guide is a great opportunity to explore deeper, scratch beneath the surface, and discover things you didn’t even know existed…

Good to know: At the bottom of this article, you can find a map indicating all the places that you can easily visit as a day trip from London mentioned in this guide. It will give you a better idea of where everything is.

Best London day trips and most popular day tours from London

TIP: If you don’t have the time to read the entire article and are looking for the best day trips from London, here are the 4 most popular day tours among our readers:

  • Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Bath (also in combination with Roman Baths that you can add when booking).
  • Cotswolds .
  • Harry Potter Studio (also in combination with Oxford).
  • Seven Sisters & South Downs .

Interesting to know: Overall, the most-visited day trip destinations from London are Windsor Castle and Harry Potter Studios.

These are the best & most popular day trips from London:

1. Windsor Castle

If you visit just one place outside of London city, make it Windsor Castle ! Located just 20 miles (32 km) from the city center, a day trip to Windsor is a must on any London bucket list!

The spectacular Windsor Castle is one of the queen’s official residences and has been home to the royal family for 900 years! Kings and queens have been buried here, including the infamous Henry VIII and Jayne Seymour, his third wife. Most recently, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is also buried at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

An excellent example of church architecture in medieval times, Windsor Castle is still used for royal receptions and state occasions. In recent years it has been the venue of the weddings of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank.

Open all year round, Windsor Castle is a great way to explore royal history, from touring the Castle Precincts to viewing the lavish staterooms and apartments. The Castle Grounds are both beautiful and peaceful and from there you can observe the iconic Changing of the Guard, which normally happens at 11 am on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, from April until the end of July.

Good to know. At the moment, Windsor Castle is open daily except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Because it’s a working royal palace, sometimes parts of the castle or even the entire castle can get closed on short notice. Below, you can find all the practical information for your visit. Read on!

Windsor Castle is one of the best places to visit as a day trip from London

How to visit. You can easily get to Windsor by train from London. There’s a direct train from London Waterloo Station and it takes about 1 hour. From Windsor & Eton Riverside station, it’s just a short walk to the castle. Be sure to book your Windsor Castle tickets online in advance ! This is the best option for those who prefer to take their time and explore the castle at their own pace.

If you come here for a day, be sure to check out Windsor and Eton towns as well! The best way to do this is by taking a hop-on hop-off bus in Windsor . Another nice thing to do is take a boat tour and enjoy different views of the castle from the river.

Good to know: Entry to Windsor Palace is also included with the London Pass , which offers good value if you spend more time in London and plan on visiting many popular tourist attractions and museums.

Best tours from London. Windsor Castle is the most popular day trip destination near London, so there are many tours that can bring you here as well. Most tours that visit the castle also include one or several other nice places nearby – perfect for those who are short on time and want to make the most of their day.

Here are the most popular day tours from London that visit Windsor Castle:

  • Windsor Castle only – this is a convenient bus transfer from/ to London that also includes the tickets to the castle. This tour takes about 4 hours in total – the fastest way to visit Windsor Castle from London.
  • Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Oxford – the most popular full-day tour from London.
  • Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Bath – with an option to visit Roman Baths.

Inside the Royal Windsor Castle - London Day Trips UK

2. Stonehenge

Stonehenge is one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments and another extremely popular destination for London day trips. Built almost 5000 years ago by farmers in the Neolithic period, this is a spiritual and architectural wonder that many people consider an absolute must-see in the UK!

Historians still debate its original purpose, although most agree that it was probably built for spiritual reasons. Meanwhile, engineers marvel at the extraordinary skill and size of the construction project, which must have involved hundreds of workers given the very simple tools they had available at the time.

Whilst the main attraction at this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the mystical Stone Circle itself, you can also view the 5 on-site Neolithic houses. Their design was based on the remains of houses from this period that were discovered during a nearby excavation in 2006.

You can step through the doors of these houses to see just how the builders of Stonehenge might have lived thousands of years ago, with each house equipped with replica axes, pottery, and artifacts.

Stonehenge is one of the most popular places to visit near London

How to visit . Stonehenge is located about 90 miles (145 km) from London. There are no direct trains to Stonehenge, but you can take a train to Salisbury train station and then take The Stonehenge Tour Bus service from there. The easiest way to get here from London is either by car or by tour. If you drive, prepare for very busy traffic and count at least 2 hours one way. If you go without a tour, be sure to book your admission tickets online in advance !

Best tours from London. Since Stonehenge is quite a drive from the city, but it doesn’t require that much time to visit, it’s usually included as one of the sights of some of the most popular day tours from London.

Here are the most popular tours that visit Stonehenge from London:

  • Stonehenge only – a very popular half-day tour (morning or afternoon) that includes transportation and entrance tickets. It takes about 6 hours and is the fastest way to visit Stonehenge from London.
  • Stonehenge & Bath – the most relaxing full-day tour.
  • Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Bath – a very complete tour that also includes an entry to the Roman Baths.

Stonehenge - London day trips

Bath is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK and the most popular town that you can easily visit as a day trip from London. This picturesque historic city is filled with stunning examples of honey-colored Georgian architecture and some of the most photographed buildings in the world.

Perhaps the most famous feature of this UNESCO World Heritage City is the ancient Roman Baths built around thermal springs and supplying water for over 2,000 years. Whilst the Baths are open for you to view, no bathing has been allowed there since 1978. Instead, the much more modern Thermae Bath Spa was opened in 2006, containing the only natural hot spring in England in which you are allowed to bathe.

In the city stands the magnificent Bath Abbey , with its unique ‘ladder of angels’ on the west front. This feature was inspired by Bath’s Bishop at that time, who saw angels ascending and descending in a dream. You will also see the iconic ‘Royal Crescent’ – 30 Grade I listed terraced houses built in the late 18th century, arranged in a crescent around a verdant lawn overlooking Royal Victoria Park.

Another architectural gem is the Circus , also built in the latter half of the 18th century. This historic street of large townhouses forms a circle, which is how it got its name (Circus is Latin for a ring, circle, or oval).

And perhaps most beautiful of all is the romantic Pulteney Bridge , with its small, leaded domes, pilasters, and pediments. The bridge was named after the wife of William Johnstone Pulteney, an important figure in Bath at that time and owner of much of the surrounding land. A popular thing to do in Bath is to take a short boat trip on River Avon – it allows you to easily see some of the main sights of Bath in a short time.

Roman Baths in Bath UK

How to visit. Bath is about 120 miles (195 km), about 2.5 hours drive from London. If you drive, be sure to stop at Stonehenge along the way! The fastest way to get to Bath from London is by train – it takes less than 1.5 hours. And there are also many tours that visit Bath from London, usually in combination with other beautiful places nearby.

TIP. If you visit Bath on your own, you may want to take a walking tour of the city. It’s the best way to see a lot in a short time – you’ll be sure not to miss any important places, but it also gives you a better insight into the history and architecture of this unique town.

Best tours from London. Since Bath is so close to Stonehenge, most tours from London visit both of these places together. In addition, some tours also include one or several other places nearby.

Here are the most popular day tours from London to Bath:

  • Stonehenge & Bath .
  • Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Bath .
  • Stonehenge and Bath Tour with Secret Site – a very highly rated small group tour.

Pulteney Bridge over River Avon in Bath UK

One of the UK’s most famous university towns, Oxford is also a place that you can easily visit as a day trip from London.

Oxford University was established in the 12th century and is one of the oldest universities in the world. The university is composed of 38 separate college buildings, whose architecture inspired the poet Matthew Arnold to name it the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ (see the picture of the All Souls College below, and you’ll understand where the name comes from).

Some scenes in the Harry Potter movies were filmed in Oxford, so it can be fun to try and spot them as you tour the city. Harry Potter fans can also opt for this popular walking tour of the filming locations .

In the heart of the city center is Christ Church College , home to the magnificent Hall and Christ Church Cathedral with its landmark spire and Tom Tower. The gardens of the 12th-century Cathedral inspired Lewis Carroll to write ‘Alice in Wonderland’. You can hunt for features of the story, such as the Alice in Wonderland motives in one of the large windows in the Great Dining Hall.

The Cathedral also contains the shrine and tomb of Saint Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford. Christ Church College – one of Oxford University’s largest colleges – has lots more for visitors to see, from the famous Bodley Tower to the stunning Meadow Building.

There are two main museums that are well worth seeing during a visit to Oxford. Founded in 1683, the Ashmolean Museum is Oxford University’s museum of art and archaeology. Free to enter, it’s a great place to learn all about human culture and societies across the world and throughout time, with its collections including everything from Egyptian mummies to contemporary works of art.

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History , meanwhile, houses a captivating collection of natural specimens, covering everything from Earth’s beginnings to a look inside an active beehive!

Connecting two parts of Hertford College is the Hertford Bridge , popularly known as the ‘Bridge of Sighs’. Named after its resemblance to Venice’s Bridge of Sighs , this particular bridge is a skyway that allows students to travel from one building to another. Designed by Sir Thomas Jackson and completed in 1914, this photo-worthy bridge is best viewed from the steps of the University’s Bodleian Library (another must-see in Oxford).

All Souls College in Oxford

How to visit. Oxford is just 60 miles (95 km), 1.5 hours drive from London. There are also direct trains from London and the journey takes about 1 hour – this is the best way to visit Oxford on your own. There are also organized tours that visit Oxford from London – usually in combination with one or two other places nearby.

TIP: If you visit Oxford for a day, consider this walking tour . It takes just 1.5 hours and is a great way to learn more about the city and the university. River cruises are also very popular and are a fun way to explore Oxford!

Best tours from London. While you could easily fill an entire day in Oxford, most one-day tours from London only spend a few hours here and combine a visit here with several other places.

Here are the most popular tours that visit Oxford from London:

  • Harry Potter Studio Tour & Oxford – a bucket list day trip for all Harry Potter fans!
  • Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Oxford – see three of the most popular locations in one day.
  • Oxford, Stratford, and Cotswolds – this is a great tour for those who want to see the English countryside. It’s also a nice addition to the popular Windsor, Stonehenge, and Bath tours mentioned above. If you do two of these tours, you get to see most of the nicest day trip destinations near London in just two days.

Hertford Bridge in Oxford UK

5. Cotswolds

The scenic traditional towns and stone villages of the Cotswolds is one of the most popular London day trips for those who want to experience the true English countryside. This area is so picturesque! Below, you can find an overview of the most beautiful places not to miss.

Minster Lovell village is the home of Minster Lovell Hall and Dovecote, which sits on the banks of the River Windrush. This 15th-century Oxfordshire manor house was built by William, Baron of Lovell and Holand – one of England’s richest men at the time. The house was eventually abandoned and now only the substantial ruins remain, giving lots of wonderful photographic opportunities against their beautiful rural backdrop.

A Cotswold village of outstanding beauty is Bibury , with its gorgeous stone buildings that run along the banks of the River Coln. Here you can see the iconic Arlington Row – a series of buildings that were originally built as a monastic wool store but were later converted into cottages. Now owned by the National Trust, Arlington Row is considered to be so quintessentially English that its image appears on the inside cover of UK passports.

Another village well worth visiting is Buford , with its 3 arched medieval bridges across the River Windrush. Famous for its High Street which runs down toward the river, Buford is popular for antique shopping and boasts lots of good restaurants, pubs, and tea rooms. It’s also home to a hotel in which King Charles dined with his mistress, Nell Gwynne.

Whilst there are many contenders for the title, most people will agree that Bourton-on-the-Water is the prettiest village in England. Also known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, this ‘must-see’ village is named for the many beautiful bridges that cross its river at the center. Located in a small valley, Bourton-on-the-Water has many charming tea rooms and restaurants, plus a range of eclectic shops including pottery and the Cotswold Perfumery. Don’t miss the popular model village, which is a 1/9th scale replica of the entire center of the village.

If you are lucky enough to be visiting on the afternoon of the August Bank Holiday Monday, you’ll witness one of the village’s more curious traditions, in which a local team plays a full game of football right in the River Windrush. This bizarre game of soccer has been filmed and reported all over the world!

If you have more time in this area, here are some more really nice villages to see in the Cotswolds: Castle Combe, Stow-on-the-Wold, Cirencester, Chipping Campden, Blockley, and Stanton .

Arlington Row in Bibury Cotswolds UK

How to visit. The Cotswolds are about 30 minutes drive west of Oxford and about 2 hours drive from London. Since the main attractions of the Cotswolds are its various villages, the best way to visit here is either by car or with a tour.

Best tours from London. The beautiful Cotswolds region is just a short drive from Oxford, so many tours combine the two places. There are also popular Downton Abbey filming location tours that combine a visit here to that of the Highclere Castle, but because of time restraints, you usually only see one village on these tours.

Here is an overview of the most popular Cotswolds tours from London:

  • Cotswolds only – this is the best tour for those who want to explore the Cotswolds deeper as it visits several of the nicest villages and allows you more time to experience this beautiful area.
  • Oxford, Stratford, and Cotswolds – the most popular day tour.
  • Oxford and Cotswolds Villages – the best small-group tour.
  • Stonehenge, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Bath, and Cotswolds – this tour is packed, but well organized and you get to see some of the best places in a very short time.

Castle Combe village in Cotswolds UK - London day trips

6. Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon is a small medieval market town and also a very popular place to see near London. The birthplace of William Shakespeare is probably at the top of most people’s must-see lists and the main reason to visit here.

The timber-framed house on Henley Street is where Shakespeare not only spent part of his childhood but also the first 5 years of his marriage after his father’s death in 1601. Live presentations from guides dressed in period costumes and the carefully restored Tudor rooms bring history to life.

In the many Tudor-style buildings of Stratford, you’ll also find 3 theatres owned by The Royal Shakespeare Company. They perform plays by Shakespeare, his contemporaries, and other, later writers. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre is situated on the banks of the River Avon, panoramic views of which can be enjoyed from the theatre’s tower.

Also on the River Avon is the Swan Theatre , built on the side of the Royal Theatre and offering a more intimate atmosphere. The third theatre – the Other Place – is smaller and used as a center for performing arts.

For a taste of old-fashioned romance, pay a visit to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage a bit outside of town. This beautiful 500-year-old building was originally a farmhouse and was where William Shakespeare courted Anne, his future wife. Incredibly picturesque, the cottage still contains original features and furnishings and is surrounded by beautiful gardens.

Another must-see is the Hall’s Croft , the house of Shakespeare’s daughter, with stunning gardens. Inside, you can find original 16-17th-century furniture, paintings, and other items.

Hall's Croft in Stratford upon Avon

How to visit. Stratford-upon-Avon is about 100 miles (160 km), 2 hours drive from London. If you don’t have a car, the easiest way to visit here on a day trip from London is by joining a tour.

Best tours from London. Most tours visiting Stratford-upon-Avon from London combine it with other places nearby and only spend a few hours here. They usually include a guided walk in the town center and sometimes a visit to Shakespeare’s birthplace.

Here is a small selection of the best day tours from London:

  • Shakespeare’s Stratford & Cotswolds – this is one of the few tours that spend more time in Stratford and also visits Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. It also brings you to three villages in the Cotswolds.
  • Oxford, Stratford, & Cotswolds – this popular tour spends about 2 hours in Stratford and covers more ground in a day.

Stratford-upon-Avon UK

7. Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Fans of Harry Potter – and even those who have yet to experience the wizardly wonder of the movies – will enjoy a visit to the fascinating Warner Bros. studio near London . It’s one of the most popular day tours from London (after Windsor Castle), and a must if visiting London with kids .

Here, you can see firsthand some of the amazing sets used in the film’s production, including the Great Hall of Hogwarts (which went on to be used in 6 more films) and the Forbidden Forest filled with 19 trees, each with a diameter of over 12 feet. You can even see The Hogwarts Express locomotive at the elusive Platform 9¾.

There are prop rooms where you can take a close-up look at look at the elaborate props used in the Harry Potter movies. There are almost 2,000 potion jars and memory vials, all with labels hand-designed by the Graphics Department. You can also see Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, which took 3 months to build and was intended to look as much as possible as a real 18th-century storefront.

If you have an interest in the making of movies, you will enjoy other parts of the studio as well. The Special and Visual Effects section reveals how some of the more incredible scenes were created, including how Harry and his friends were made invisible by the Invisibility Cloak and how they appeared to fly! Even more captivating is the Creature Effects section, where you can learn how the magical creatures in the Harry Potter films were created and brought to life.

A visit to the Making of Harry Potter Studio provides a magical and educational experience for adults and children alike. If you are looking for a fun relaxing day trip near London, this is a great option for the whole family!

Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio near London

How to visit. Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio is located in Leavesden, Watford, about 20 miles from London city center. But because of the busy traffic, it’s quite a long drive. There’s a train from London to Watford, from where you’ll have to take a bus to the studios – the journey will take you over 1 hour not counting the time to get to the station. There are also several companies offering bus transfers from London – see below.

Best tours from London. The easiest way to get to Harry Potter Studios is by booking a transfer or a tour from London. That way you don’t have to worry about the tickets either.

This highly-rated  Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour  departs from Victoria Station, close to Westminster Catedral in the city center. There is also a popular  tour that departs from King’s Cross . The prices are usually the same and include a bus transfer and tickets. You’ll need about 7-8 hours in total for this day trip.

PRO TIP: One of the most popular tours from London is this popular tour that includes a visit to the studios and also visits Oxford . It’s a truly magical day trip as Oxford is one of the places where Harry Potter movies were filmed.

Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour London

8. Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace , one of the Tudor Palaces, was the former royal residence of King Henry VIII. In addition to Windsor, this is another really nice place to visit near London, especially if you are a fan of royal history.

Hampton Court is a huge, impressive baroque-style palace located at the River Thames and surrounded by stunning gardens and parkland . If you visit in spring, you can see the magnificent tulip festival. But the gardens have something nice to offer in every season, and there are various events at the Palace throughout the year.

The interior of the castle gives you a chance to take a glimpse into the daily life of royals in the 16-17th centuries. You can visit the impressive State Rooms and private apartments of William III . Also, don’t miss the kitchens of Henry VIII , where over 200 people worked in the past, cooking and serving more than 800 meals per day.

Another highlight is the magnificent Great Hall that was originally a dining room, but afterwards became a sort of theatre that was used for entertainment, plays, and dances. Back in the day, William Shakespeare performed his plays here. The highlights here include a series of tapestries showing scenes from the Book of Genesis and the impressive timber roof with Anne Bollaine’s coat-of-arms.

This is also a very nice place to visit for families, with a maze in the garden, fantastic play areas for children, and plenty of places for a picnic. When the weather is nice, you could easily spend an entire day just exploring the gardens.

Hampton Court Palace near London

How to visit. Hampton Court Palace is located on the outskirts of London, about 15 miles southwest of the city center. You can easily visit Hampton Court Palace from London by train. There is a train from London Waterloo Station to Surbiton Station, and from there to Hampton Court. It takes about 40 minutes.

In addition, there are also several tours – see below.

Good to know: Hampton Court Palace entry is included with the London Pass .

Tours from London. Because Hampton Court is quite easy to get to and explore on your own, there aren’t many organized tours. The best ones are private tours like this one ; it combines a visit to Hampton Court Palace with that of Windsor Castle. That way, you get to see two of the most impressive royal palaces near London in one day.

There are also some nice bike tours or boat tours that explore the surroundings of Hampton, starting from different locations nearby.

Hampton Court Palace (inside) - London day trips

9. Brighton & Seven Sisters

If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of London and see some of the stunning nature of England, then definitely consider a day trip to the white cliffs of Seven Sisters and South Downs . At the same time, you can also visit one of the UK’s nicest coastal cities – Brighton .

Brighton is worth a trip in its own right, with all the little pleasures that a lively seaside resort has to offer. If you have some time to spare, check out the Royal Pavilion , an Asian-style palace that looks like it belongs in an Indian fairytale…

But for a sightseeing day trip from London, you can also opt for something slightly different and explore some of the beautiful nature outside of town as well.

The rolling hills of the South Downs offer so much to explore and enjoy, with spectacular views and popular spots with their own unique legends. One of the most famous is that of the Devil’s Dyke , a v-shaped dry valley whose creation was attributed to the work of the devil himself (although, as you will see, it’s far too beautiful for that!). The South Downs is also home to the Long Man of Wilmington – a 235 ft tall chalk figure on the side of a grassy hill and one of only two human hill figures in England.

Be sure to check out Beachy Head , which – at 535 feet – is the highest chalk cliff on the southern coast of England. From the top, you can see miles of coastline in either direction, plus the candy-striped lighthouse that sits just out to sea. Nearby is the Birling Gap – one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast. Here you can see coastal erosion firsthand, with the cliffs eroding up to a meter a year at certain points.

Another highlight of any visit to the South Downs is the Seven Sisters – an undulating line of white chalk cliffs, each hill with its own name. They are best viewed from Seaford Head , where you can see evidence of an 8th hill beginning to form from the erosion of the sea.

TIP: Any visit to the Downs must include a visit to the popular Middle Farm , which offers such delicacies as local cheese, sparkling wines, and traditional Sussex cider.

White cliffs of Seven Sisters in southern England

How to visit. South Downs and the Seven Sisters are located near Brighton in south England. While you can easily get to Brighton by train from London, you’ll need a car for the other places. The best way to visit is with a tour – see below.

Best tours from London. There are just a few tours from London that visit this area. The best option is this highly-rated tour that includes a train ticket from London to Brighton and a small-group minibus tour of the sights along the coast. If you prefer to make your own way to Brighton, you can also book the same tour starting in Brighton .

TIP: If you rather book a private tour, there is one tour that offers a pick-up in your hotel in London and covers all these sights in and around Brighton.

Seven Sisters white cliffs in Sussex UK

10. Cambridge

Less than an hour by train from London, Cambridge is another beautiful town to visit for a day. Just as Oxford, it’s probably best known for its centuries-old University, and this beautiful town has lots of well-preserved historic buildings. But this medieval city is also a student town and has a very nice, relaxed atmosphere.

Don’t miss the King’s College Chapel , Queen’s College , Trinity College, and Wren Library . You can also climb to the top of the tower of Great St Mary’s Church for nice views over the city.

In addition to exploring the many colleges in the city (there are 31! of them), be sure to walk along the River Cam ! Also Cambridge has its own Bridge of Sighs . This covered bridge at St John’s College spans over the river and is a favorite photo spot for weddings as well as tourists visiting the town.

Other nice bridges worth seeing in Cambridge are the Mathematical Bridge , Clare College Bridge , King’s College Bridge , and there are many others.

A great way to explore the beautiful river, see the bridges, the town, and the surroundings is a punt tour . This traditional boat ride is a very typical thing to do in Cambridge – don’t miss it!

Bridge of Sighs Cambridge

How to visit. Cambridge is just over 60 miles (95 km) north of London, and the easiest way to visit is by taking a direct train from King’s Cross Station in London. It takes less than 50 minutes, so you can easily visit Cambridge on your own, without a tour.

Once in Cambridge, you can take a walking tour with a local or explore on your own. The earlier mentioned punt tours on the river are also not to be missed.

Best tours from London. If you rather visit Cambridge with a tour from London, there are several options as well. We recommend this 2-in-1 tour that visits Cambridge and Oxford . That way, you get to see two university towns in one day.

King's College in Cambridge - London day trips

11. Canterbury Cathedral & Leeds Castle

While Leeds Castle and Canterbury Cathedral are over 20 miles apart, these two landmarks don’t require that much time and so are usually visited on the same day. In fact, they are usually combined with a short visit to Dover too, but more about it further below.

After a visit to Leeds Castle , you will not be able to help but agree with Lord Conway, who described it as ‘the loveliest castle in the world’. With a romantic, fairy-tale appearance, this 12th-century gem was built in the center of a natural lake, surrounded by 500 acres of beautiful gardens and parkland.

Leeds Castle was once used as a palace by Henry VIII and the private property of six medieval queens. Its rooms have been beautifully restored and give you the opportunity to learn all about its long and fascinating history.

In addition to the Lady Baillie Garden, which gives stunning views across the lake, the grounds also hold one of Kent’s most popular mazes, with 2,400 yew trees. Once you reach the maze’s center, a fascinating underground grotto takes you back to the real world!

Leeds Castle is a popular day trip destination near London

One of the most famous and picturesque Christian buildings in England, Canterbury Cathedral was founded in 597, then extensively rebuilt from 1070 to 1077. It is the Cathedral of the leader of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and is still used for active worship.

The Cathedral contains the shrine of Archbishop Thomas Becket and you can stand on the spot upon which he was murdered, as told in Geoffrey Chaucer’s famous ‘Canterbury Tales’.

Also the medieval town center of Canterbury, with its cobbled streets and timber-framed houses, is a nice place to see if you have more time. It’s a popular day trip from London for locals. Also here, you can take traditional boat tours on the river.

How to visit. Unless you have a car, the easiest way to visit Leeds Castle and Canterbury Cathedral is by taking a tour. If you just visit one of these places, you could also get there by public transport. For Leeds Castle, you have to take a train to Ashford, followed by a bus trip to the castle. For Canterbury, there’s a direct train from London, and you can make a nice relaxing day trip by visiting this picturesque town.

Best tours from London. There are several tours from London that visit these places. You can find them here and they are all quite similar in terms of itinerary.

Canterbury Cathedral and Canterbury town aerial view

12. White Cliffs of Dover & Dover Castle

“There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover” went the words to the popular wartime song – and if you’re familiar with the song then it’s quite incredible to see the inspiring white cliffs for yourself. If you are looking for something different to see near London than historic towns and villages, Dover is a wonderful place to visit!

Composed of chalk, Dover’s cliffs are 350 ft high and stretch for 8 miles. They were on the front line of both world wars and were a critical part of England’s defenses at that time. Now, they provide wonderful views across the surrounding countryside and the English Channel. On clear days you can even look across and see France!

The unique chalky grassland habitat of the cliffs means that they are abundant in wildlife and you can see all sorts of flowers, butterflies, and birds as you walk, including the rarely spotted peregrine falcon.

You can either spend your visit simply enjoying the cliff-top views, or take a short trip to see Dover Castle too. Dover Castle is one of England’s biggest castles and was built in 1066 by William the Conqueror. Ironically, he built it to stop anyone from invading the country using the way in which he’d invaded it himself!

A visit to the Castle includes exploration of the tunnels that go deep into the cliffs, where you can learn all about the dramatic evacuation from Dunkirk and see the Underground Hospital that was used to treat injured soldiers in WWII.

White Cliffs of Dover UK

How to visit. Dover is about 80 miles southeast of London. You can take a direct train to Dover from London and visit the town and the castle, and take a walk along the shore from where you can admire the beautiful white cliffs. Alternatively, you can also visit here with some day tours from London – see below.

Best tours from London. There are several tours that visit Dover from London, usually in combination with a few other places and Dover is often not more than a short photo stop. Here are the most popular day tours:

  • Dover, Leeds Castle & Canterbury Cathedral – the most popular and best price/quality tour from London.
  • Dover, Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral & Greenwich – quite a full day, but you get to see a lot in a short time.

Dover Castle, UK

13. Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is a very impressive country house in Woodstock, about 65 miles northwest of London. This is England’s only non-royal country house that actually holds the title of a palace.

The birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill currently the home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough, Blenheim Palace is a stunning example of 18th-century Baroque architecture. During your visit, you will see the magnificent staterooms, which are filled with priceless works of art and beautiful tapestries. A grade I listed building and World Heritage Site, Blenheim Palace also contains the finest collection of antiques to be found anywhere in Europe.

The gardens – set within over 754 hectares of land – are particularly wonderful to explore. Designed by the English landscape architect Capability Brown, there are several formal gardens to enjoy. Don’t miss the Rose Garden, the exquisite Water Terraces, the Secret Gardens, and the family-friendly Pleasure Gardens.

Historical monuments can be seen throughout, including the Column of Victory (built to commemorate the Duke of Marlborough’s military successes), the Grand Bridge which spans the two lakes and The Temple of Diana, where Sir Winston Churchill proposed to his future wife.

There are also a few recommended walks to take. Possibly the most beautiful is The Lake and Grand Cascade walk, which gives you breathtaking views of the countryside.

Blenheim Palace UK

Good to know: The Palace and the grounds are so big and have so much to offer that you can easily spend an entire day here. In fact, many people find that one day isn’t even enough and many locals get a yearly pass for the Palace. However, many tours only spend a few hours here and just cover the main highlights. So how to visit depends on what you want to see and do here.

How to visit. The easiest way to visit Blenheim Palace is by car or with a tour, but you can also get here by public transport. From London Paddington Station, take a train to Hanborough (a bit over 1 hour), and from there, take a bus to the palace (it takes 7-10 minutes). If you want to spend an entire day at the palace, this is the best way to visit on a day trip from London.

Best tours from London. There are several tours that shortly visit Blenheim Palace from London. The best tour that spends more time at Palace is this Blenheim Palace, Downton Abbey Village & the Cotswolds tour. This tour also includes a few short photo stops at other popular locations nearby.

Blenheim Palace Gardens

14. Downton Abbey Filming Locations

Downton Abbey filming locations close to Oxford and the Cotswolds make another popular day trip destination from London. There are two main places that you’ll want to see here – Bampton village and Highclere Castle .

Highclere Castle is a beautiful building and another fine example of luxurious life in the English countryside. It has been used for various film sets but became hugely popular since the filming of the TV series Downton Abbey . It’s now a very popular place to visit from Oxford or from London. The castle belongs to the Carnarvon family and is kept as it is, without turning it into a ‘theme park’ like some other castles in the area.

Another must-see for Downton Abbey fans is the beautiful village of Bampton . You’ll recognize many of the buildings here from the series, and it’s great fun to try to spot them during your visit!

Be sure to locate the home of Isobel Crawley, the church (actually named St. Mary’s), two fictional pubs – the Grantham Arms and the Dog and Duck – plus the Downton Cottage Hospital. The building used for the hospital is, in reality, the Bampton Community Archive, which houses a collection of old photos of the village and its people.

Bampton is a lovely village to visit in its own right. It is mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086 and was already a large settlement during the era of the Norman Conquest. On the other hand, it’s so small that you don’t need much time here.

Highclere Castle is a popular London day trip for Downtown Abbey fans

How to visit. Highclere Castle is located about 65 miles (105 km) west of London, whereas Bampton village is about 30-40 miles from here, very close to Oxford. The best way to visit these places is either by car or by taking a tour.

Best tours from London. There are several tours visiting Downton Abbey filming locations from London. Some of the tours also visit Oxford, some others pass several villages of Cotswolds as well. This tour has the most complete itinerary covering most of the Downton Abbey filming locations.

Bampton village in the UK (one of Downton Abbey filming locations)

The picturesque village of Lacock in rural Wiltshire near Bath is another place often visited on day tours from London. It’s a small village and you don’t need much time here, but it’s well worth a stop if touring the area.

The historic village of Lacock looks much as it did two centuries ago. Founded in the Saxon era, Lacock’s buildings originally made up part of a monastery complex (be sure to visit Lacock Abbey !). In the 19th century, it lost its main source of income from the wool industry, so very little development has taken place since then.

This means that this unspoiled little village gives an authentic look into days gone by. In fact, you can still see an old workhouse and medieval tithe barn in addition to the traditional stone cottages, with classic English pubs dotted throughout.

The village’s beauty makes it a popular choice as a TV and film location. Scenes from Pride and Prejudice were filmed here and Lacock Abbey was also used to film parts of Harry Potter.

Lacock was also used in Downtown Abbey, but because of its location, it’s usually a place you’d visit in combination with Bath and Stonehenge and not together with Highclere castle or Bampton. Unless you drive – in that case, you could make your own tour covering all three.

Lacock Abbey in the UK

How to visit. Because of its rural location, Lacock is best visited by car or with a tour.

Best tours from London. There are many tours that stop in Lacock, usually in combination with a visit to Bath, Stonehenge, sometimes also with Windsor Castle. This is the most popular tour that also brings you to Lacock (in addition to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath).

Lacock Abbey cloisters

16. Warwick Castle

If you want to visit a real medieval castle near London, consider a day trip to Warwick Castle . With a history that goes back over 1000 years, a visit here takes you on a journey back in time, to a world of historic myths and battles for the English throne, but also lavish banquets, and royal splendor.

The castle was originally built as a wooden fort in 1068 and was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century. As you arrive, you enter over the footbridge and find an impressive medieval castle with ramparts and towers. You can climb the stairs of the castle walls and explore this impressive castle inside out.

A visit to Warwick Castle is very different than the others mentioned in this guide – it has something of a theme park feel if you like. There are various events, shows, attractions, archery and sword lessons, and lots of other fun experiences all year round.

This is one of those places where locals visit with their children during weekends and school holidays, but it’s also fun and entertaining for tourists. Even more so if you are traveling with a family.

Medieval knights jousting at Warwick Castle

How to visit. Warwick Castle is located about 100 miles (160km), 2 hours drive from London. If you want to spend more time at the castle, by far the easiest way to visit Warwick from London for a day is by train.

There are direct trains from London Marylebone Station to Warwick Railway Station, the journey takes about 1.5 hours. From the station, it’s about 20-30 minutes walk to the castle. Be sure to check the official website of the castle for more info and book your tickets in advance!

Best tours from London. Most tours from London that visit Warwick Castle do this in combination with Oxford and Stratford. Some also stop at one or two villages in the Cotswolds. Here you can find a selection of tours that include a visit to Warwick Castle .

Warwick Castle in the United Kingdom

17. Liverpool & The Beatles

While not exactly next door, we feel that Liverpool also deserves a mention as a place that you can visit on a day trip from London. If you are a fan of The Beatles , a visit here is a bucket-list experience and well worth the journey.

A visit to Liverpool gives a fascinating look into the lives and times of 4 local lads who formed what would become one of the most famous bands in the world. A good starting point from which to enjoy this vibrant Victorian city is the Royal Albert Dock, which is made up of refurbished dock warehouses and is now packed with restaurants, cafes, and many attractions.

The Beatles Story is an award-winning, permanent exhibition totally devoted to the Fab Four! Located on the Dock, it contains lots of authentic memorabilia and provides an immersive experience for visitors. Even children are catered for in the Exhibitions Discovery Zone. Be sure to reserve your tickets in advance !

Another interesting part of the visit for die-hard Beatles fans is the Magical Mystery Tour , which you take via a colorful tour bus that sets off from the Royal Albert Dock. In addition to the birthplaces, homes, schools, and original workplaces of the Beatles, you will also see the places that inspired some of their greatest hits, including Penny Lane and Strawberry Field.

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Liverpool

The Beatles Story Liverpool

How to visit. The best way to visit Liverpool as a day trip from London is by taking a train (going by car would be about 4 hours one way). The journey by train takes 2 – 2.5 hours and there are many trains throughout the day, but be sure to book in advance and start your day as early as possible!

Once in Liverpool, you can take the earlier-mentioned Magical Mystery bus tour. Definitely visit the Beatles Story exhibition as well!

TIP: If you find it overwhelming to arrange everything yourself, you can also book a day tour to Liverpool from London. Most of these ‘tours’ are actually individual trips where everything from train tickets to all activities is pre-arranged for you. See below.

Best tours from London. This Liverpool and The Beatles day tour is the most popular and probably the best option. It includes reserved train seats, an entry to the Beatles Story exhibition, and also a ticket to the 2-hour Magical Mystery Tour!

Good to know: The above-mentioned tour from London to Liverpool starts at Euston Station in London and is normally available every day except Sundays. You’ll have to meet their representative at the station at 6.30 AM, so prepare for this to be a long day!

LEARN MORE: How to Plan a Day Trip to Liverpool from London

Liverpool UK - London day trips

Map of the best places to visit as a day trip from London & practical info

To give you a better idea of where all these places are located, we created a map indicating all the best day trip destinations from London mentioned in this guide. You can click on the map below in order to see it on Google Maps.

Good to know: As already mentioned, many of the most popular day trip destinations from London can be visited with organized tours or by train .

We don’t recommend renting a car if you are staying in London – the traffic is so busy in and around the city that it would be a nightmare for someone who’s not used to it. Renting a car would only make sense if you are planning a longer road trip, outside of the cities.

For organized tours , we recommend booking via the GetYourGuide website . They have a great selection of tours at the most competitive rates and the best cancelation policy and customer service out there. We personally book all tickets and tours via this website when we travel anywhere in the world.

Map of best places to visit as day trip from London

So, this is our guide to some of the most popular day trips and tours from London. I hope that this helps you choose a few nice places to visit near London and make your trip even more memorable.

For more travel inspiration for London and the UK, please see our featured articles below. Check it out!

More travel tips and inspiration for London:

  • Must-see in London: Top London Attractions
  • Hidden Gems of London
  • Camden Market
  • What to See in Camden Town
  • Best Views in London
  • London Travel Tips
  • Where to Stay in London
  • 1 Day in London
  • 2-day London Itinerary
  • London with Kids
  • Family Afternoon Tea in London
  • Best Things to Do in Greenwich
  • Painted Hall
  • Queen’s House and Tulip Stairs

READ ALSO: Traditional British Food & Where to Try It in the UK

If you found this post helpful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin these images!

Best UK day trips near London, tours, and info on how to visit

More travel tips and inspiration for all over the UK:

  • Cities: Best Cities to Visit in the UK
  • Cornwall: Best Places to Visit in Cornwall & Where to Stay in Cornwall
  • Yorkshire: Yorkshire Day Trips
  • Liverpool: Best Things to Do in Liverpool & The Beatles in Liverpool
  • Manchester: Best Things to Do in Manchester & 1-day Manchester Itinerary
  • Scotland: Isle of Skye Itinerary & Scotland Whisky Tour
  • Edinburgh: Top Places to See in Edinburgh & One Day in Edinburgh & Tips for Visiting Edinburgh
  • Glasgow: One Day in Glasgow
  • Seaside: Best Things to Do in Blackpool & Blackpool Travel Tips & Places to See Near Blackpool
  • …for more destinations, check our UK travel guide .
  • Read also: How to Plan a Trip to Europe

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

Lacinda Mena

Tuesday 2nd of May 2023

I am traveling with a group of six. We would like to depart London on September 4 and view Stonehedge, Windsor, and Bath on our way to Southampton. Do you know of any tours that would offer this service?

Hi Lacinda, no, I don't personally know any tours that offer this kind of service. I found this private tour that visits all the places that you mentioned from London. It's one of the cheapest and best-rated tours in its kind. However, I'm not sure if they wouldn't mind dropping you off somewhere else. You could probably book it and then contact them and ask what is possible. If it's not what you are looking for, you can cancel it. I see that the tour has free cancelation, so that's how I would do it. Otherwise, try to search the internet for private drivers and ask for a quote. Good luck!

Wednesday 26th of April 2023

Amazing blog! Was looking for something like this for my trip to London in a few days, and this has been really useful information; the detail with which you describe are amazing. Plus the alternatives to get there and the map, loved it all! Thanks for taking the time.

Thursday 27th of April 2023

Glad to help and thanks a lot for taking the time to leave this kind feedback, Alex! Have a great trip!

Wednesday 15th of February 2023

Awesome! Thanks for the info!

Saturday 4th of February 2023

This was great information. Thanks

Monday 6th of February 2023

Glad to help. Have a great time in the UK!

Thursday 15th of December 2022

Love this blog!!! I am planning a trip to London with my son in February! This is exactly the information we are looking for! Super helpful!!

Friday 16th of December 2022

Glad to help, Holley. Have a great time in London!

day trips london nature

100 Damn Good Day Trips From London

Ever get the feeling you're wanting to get out of town but not sure where to go? Well, if you do, why not try going on one of these top-notch day trips from London?

Alex Landon

London has too much of a hold over us to leave for long, but these cracking day trips from London will give you a chance to see the English countryside and refresh your zest for our beloved capital. Whether you’re exploring windswept beaches or checking out some of the prettiest villages in the UK , there’s something for everyone to explore in 2024. Let’s dive in shall we?

Table Of Contents

City day trips from London

Historical places near london, nature day trips from london, foodie day trips from london, pretty places near london, day trips to castles near london, literary day trips from london, national trust properties near london, seaside day trips from london, more amazing day trips near london, theme parks near london, sporty day trips from london.

Did you know there are other cities apart from London ? Here are the ones you really should explore – just remember to come back to London once you’re done, yeah?

1. Admire the dreaming spires of Oxford .

2. explore cardiff , another top uk capital., 3. go punting in cambridge ..

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Scudamore's Punting Cambridge (@puntingcambridge)

4. Dip into the Roman baths  in Bath.

5. follow chaucer’s pilgrims to canterbury ., 6. visit cadbury world , the most delicious place in birmingham  (and maybe the world)., 7. catch some shakespeare  in stratford-upon-avon..

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Stacy Michelle Cartledge (@whatstacydid)

8. Have a right royal day out  in Windsor.

9. spend the day in the arcades and on the rides of brighton pier ., 10. hop a train to see the remarkable st albans cathedral ., 11. experience the urban cool of bristol ..

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Secret Bristol (@secret.bristol)

12. Marvel at King Arthur’s round table  in Winchester.

These day trips from London will give you a glimpse into England’s past, whether that be at ancient monuments or at the pub …

13. Delve into 300 years’ worth of history at the UNESCO-listed and thoroughly gorgeous Blenheim Palace .

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Blenheim Palace (@blenheimpalace)

14. Crack codes at Bletchley Park .

15. divine the mysteries of stonehenge ..

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Stonehenge (@stonehenge)

16. Wander around Avebury , the UK’s other famous stone circle.

17. enter the battle of hastings at battle abbey ., 18. drink at the royal standard of england , the oldest pub in britain ( see more of the uk’s oldest pubs here )..

Experience fresh air and stunning scenery on these day trips from London. You’ll even have time to explore some of the UK’s breathtaking national parks , some of which lie tantalisingly close to the capital! Who knows – you may even spot some wildlife .

19. Ramble your way through The Cotswolds .

20. cycle along the south downs way ., 21. take a peek at the north wessex downs ., 22. marvel at the majesty of the high weald ..

View this post on Instagram A post shared by High Weald National Landscape (@highwealdnl)

23. Make friends with the butterflies at Holtspur Bottom Reserve .

24. check out chiltern hills ., 25. stride your way around swinley forest ., 26. catch an explosion of colour at rhs wisley ..

View this post on Instagram A post shared by RHS Garden Wisley (@rhswisley)

27. Kick your way through the leaves at Kent Downs .

28. brave the weather to see the burnham beeches ., 29. try not to get lost in the magnificent chislehurst caves ., 30. amble your way through the new forest ..

View this post on Instagram A post shared by brambleandbeach (@brambleandbeach)

31. Go for a stroll around Surrey Hills .

32. take an excursion to elmley national nature reserve ..

The tastiest day trips around necessitate stuffing your face with high-quality cuisine, and then spending the rest of the day in a highly satisfactory food coma. Now that’s something we can definitely get on board with…

33. Eat your fill at The Fat Duck , Heston Blumenthal’s revered restaurant.

34. dine at le manoir aux quat’saisons , the idyllic hideaway of raymond blanc..

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons (@belmondlemanoir)

35. Sample fine dining at The Latymer  in Pennyhill Park.

36. try the hand and flowers , a two-star michelin pub run by tom kerridge..

There’s nothing better than stumbling upon a picture-perfect vista that provides the perfect fodder for your Instagram feed. And let us tell you, there are some STUNNING spots around the UK.

37. Snap pictures of the medieval town of Lavenham , one of the prettiest villages near London . It’s also home to Harry Potter’s house, which is available on Airbnb !

38. amble through castle combe , star of many a film and tv show..

View of Castle Combe, a village and civil parish of gorgeous historic houses - on a sunny day

39. Wander through the charming village of Arundel – voted the most relaxing place in England!

40. have a gander at cookham , where wind in the willows was penned., 41. ramble through picturesque hambleden ., 42. visit chichester and head to the well-renowned theatre ., 43. explore shere , a favourite filming location. (in fact, it’s where the holiday classic, the holiday , was filmed ).

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Visit Surrey (@visitsurrey)

44. See East Bergholt , set amidst the landscape which inspired John Constable.

No need to storm the gates on day trips to these gorgeous castles, because they’re inviting you in. But will you be the king of the castle or just a dirty rascal with these London day trips listed below?

45. Step inside the real-life Downton Abbey at Highclere Castle .

An elevated view of Highclere Castle surrounded by trees and greenery

46. Follow in Anne Boleyn’s footsteps at Hever Castle .

47. framlingham castle  (of ed sheeran’s ‘ castle on the hill ‘ fame), 48. leeds castle , which confusingly is in kent, not leeds., 49. warwick castle , home to an awesome medieval trebuchet that they’re more than happy to use..

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Warwick Castle (@warwickcastleofficial)

50. Hadleigh Castle .

51. see the former prison of charles i at carisbrooke castle ., 52. dive into the history of dover castle ..

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a literary day trip will refresh your love for London, so go forth and wander the hallowed halls where literature’s greatest works were penned.

53. Take a tour of Jane Austen’s house  in Chawton.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Jane Austen's House (@janeaustenshouse)

54. Explore Bateman’s , the former home of Rudyard Kipling.

55. see roald dahl’s inspiration  in great missenden., 56. head on a dickensian tour of rochester., 57. follow the footsteps of virginia woolf around monk’s house ..

These ultra-luxe houses are just life goals, and if you’re a National Trust member, you’ll get in for free.

58. Explore Hughenden , the former home of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

59. fall in love with the chateaurrific waddesdon manor ..

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Elaine (@elaineblackall)

60. Check out the artwork at Petworth House .

61. meander round the botanical gardens at wakehurst ., 62. see chartwell , the family home of winston churchill., 63. get house envy at the stunning ightham mote ., 64. wander amongst the flowers of cliveden ..

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Cliveden House (@clivedenhouse)

65. Spend the day at picturesque Mottisfont .

66. admire the amazing views from leith hill tower  (on clear days you can even see the london skyline)., 67. visit runnymede , the site where the magna carta was sealed., 68. walk amongst the bluebells of winkworth arboretum ., 69. be enchanted by sissinghurst castle garden ..

people strolling between the trees towards a looming castle building

There are some fantastic beaches near London , but if you don’t fancy sandy toes, you can still head to the coast to explore some beautiful seaside towns .

70. Gaze out to sea from Beachy Head , one of the UK’s most beautiful spots .

The sun setting over the waters of the English Channel by Beachy Head in Eastbourne

71. Walk the sandy beach of Great Yarmouth and go on the rides at Pleasure Beach.

72. feel the wind in your hair at broadstairs ., 73. eat seafood as fresh as you can get it in whitstable ., 74. get a taste of ‘shoreditch-on-sea’ in margate ., 75. ride the pier railway line  in southend., 76. watch the waves break on hastings  seafront..

The seafront to the East Sussex town of Hastings with its landmark castle visible on top of the hill.

77. Get away from the crowds on the Isle of Wight .

78. explore mersea island , but don’t get cut off by the tide.

Still looking for places to visit near London? Here’s the best of the rest, with something to suit all tastes on your next jaunt from the capital.

79. Feel like a giant in Bekonscot Model Village , the world’s oldest such place.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Bekonscot Model Village (@bekonscotofficial)

80. Take to the skies in a microlight flight across Kent.

81. see lions, tigers, and cheetahs at the the big cat sanctuary ., 82. get high with a rope course challenge ., 83. witness an exhilarating race at the brands hatch circuit ., 84. hit the slopes at the snow centre in hemel hempstead..

View this post on Instagram A post shared by The Snow Centre (@thesnowcentre)

85. Row like an Olympian on Dorney Lake.

86. get up close to wild animals at woburn safari park ., 87. take the steam train along the watercress line ..

View this post on Instagram A post shared by The Watercress Line (@thewatercressline)

88. Explore the New Forest on horseback .

Life’s a rollercoaster on these action-packed day trips – don’t forget your souvenir photos!

89. Thorpe Park

90. legoland.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by LEGOLAND Windsor Resort (@legolandwindsor)

91. Paulton’s Park

92. chessington world of adventures, 93. drayton manor, 94. alton towers, 95. new forest water park.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by New Forest Water Park (@newforestwaterpark)

These day trips are sure to get your pulse racing, even if you’re not stepping onto the field of play…

96. Be bowled over by Wormsley , the most beautiful cricket ground in England. (April-September)

97. don your finest hat for ascot (june), 98. make a splash at henley’s royal regatta (july).

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Henley Royal Regatta (@henleyroyalregatta)

99. Visit Cowdray Park to enjoy the highlight of the polo calendar, the Gold Cup . (July)

100. start your engines for the goodwood festival of speed (june/july).

So there you have it – 100 epic day trips from London that you can enjoy in 2024. All we can say is – what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy some more of Blighty! But don’t forget to return is all we ask of you… please.

day trips london nature

TYPE IN YOUR SEARCH AND PRESS ENTER

10 ways to get out of London and into the countryside for the day

Claire Naylor

Mar 12, 2024 • 11 min read

day trips london nature

Brighton Beach is just a short train journey from London © Klaus Vedfelt / Shutterstock

Since London is a world unto itself, it’s only natural that many travelers never look beyond the confines of the city limits for a fulfilling trip.

But when you’ve made the most of free entry to the city’s best museums  and wandered through its many vast parks and green spaces , you might be ready for a day trip to explore the towns, historic sites and coastline that lie just beyond the capital.

Many of the most famous attractions in England  are just a short train ride away from London . While road trips are also a great option farther afield, in and around London, traffic and exorbitant parking fees mean escaping the city by train (or bus) is usually your best bet. For the cheapest rates, try to book rail tickets at least three months in advance. 

Then set out on one of these great itineraries, the 10 best day trips from London.

The changing of the guard ceremony at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom

1. Explore royal Windsor and nearby Eton 

Travel time: 1 hour

Most people who visit Windsor do so to see Windsor Castle , the location for many a royal wedding  and the place where Queen Elizabeth II (and many other monarchs before her) spent much of her life and is now resting in peace. Along with its towers and beautiful chapels, you can also see the Changing of the Guard , a ceremony packed with music and pageantry.

The best way to appreciate the full majesty of Windsor Castle is to approach via the aptly named Long Walk. This arrow-straight road cuts through Windsor Great Park . (There are no cars, but you might see some deer.) While the castle could keep you busy for days, must-sees include Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House , the Albert Memorial Chapel and the State Apartments. Across the river, Eton is a pretty little town that's quieter than Windsor and worth a stroll.

How to get to Windsor from London: Trains run from London Paddington and London Waterloo twice an hour; the journey takes between 40 and 60 minutes and the Paddington line requires a change at Slough. It’s around a 45-minute drive, and there are parking lots near the town center and at the base of the castle.

Sunset at low tide at Margate, Kent, England, United Kingdom

2. Enjoy art and amusements in Margate

Travel time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Its long curve of golden sand made Margate a  top seaside destination for the Victorians, only to fall out of town with holidaymakers in the late 20th century. Recent investment has brought many day-trippers back to enjoy its retro charm.

Leading the way with this regeneration is art gallery  Turner Contemporary , one of the top attractions in the area, which showcases world-class art exhibits with superb views of the harbor and beyond. The skies off the coast here captivated the great painter JMW Turner; linger in the gallery yourself to take in the light out on and off the sea. Internationally renowned artist Tracey Emin has also opened a studio and exhibition space in Cliftonville. 

If you like your day to be sprinkled with a bit of mystery, then book a ticket to tour the intriguing  Shell Grotto  (is it an ancient site or a 19th-century hoax?), while  Dreamland  is the town's famous amusement park and a great day out for the family, with many different classic rides. Once you've got your fill of the windswept beach, artworks and rides, warm up with a hot chocolate at one of the independent cafes in the rejuvenated old town before browsing or buying in the many vintage stores.

How to get to Margate from London: Trains run to Margate station, right on the beach, from London St Pancras International (1 hour 30 minutes) and Victoria (1 hour 40 minutes). It takes around two hours to drive from London to Margate, and you should expect to pay upward of £10 to park all day in town.

Interior view of the famous Great Hall in Christ Church College, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom

3. Spot Harry Potter fans in Oxford

Best known for its world-famous university and forest of ocher spires, Oxford is a grand old place steeped in privilege and prestige. Though it’s hard to escape the history of this storied town, the large student population keeps the atmosphere young and fresh, and there’s plenty for visitors to do. Highlights include several museums, punting along the River Isis and the 30 colleges that make up the university, the most famous of which are Christ Church and Magdalen . You could easily spend more than a day in Oxford.

A tour of the university colleges is a must. (Harry Potter fans will recognize various locations used in the movies.)  Blenheim Palace , a monumental 18th-century country house and the birthplace of Winston Churchill, is a short bus ride or drive from the city.

How to get to Oxford from London: Trains from London Marylebone and London Paddington to Oxford run several times an hour, and the journey time is about an hour. If you’re on a tight budget, consider taking the Oxford Tube , a coach that departs from several locations in London. Driving time is around two hours, but you’ll have to park outside town and catch a shuttle bus for the last leg.

Tourists enjoying punt tour in the heart of old Canterbury, Kent, England, United Kingdom

4. Visit the country’s most important cathedral in Canterbury

Canterbury is one of England’s most attractive and important cathedral cities, with its star building considered one of the finest in Europe. The town itself is almost absurdly quaint, with narrow alleyways following the original medieval street plan and the River Stour idling past Tudor facades.

Visiting  Canterbury Cathedral , a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an absolute must. As the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England, it’s the most important Christian site in the country. Just outside, you can see the ruins of the 6th-century St Augustine’s Abbey .

Other highlights include the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge  and boating trips  on the River Stour. On these peaceful jaunts in a flat-bottomed punt, knowledgeable guides share stories of the city as they expertly navigate the boat under bridges with barely any headroom. For a traditional English tearoom experience, visit  Tiny Tim’s Tearoom . 

How to get to Canterbury from London: Fast trains from London St Pancras International depart once an hour, with the journey taking about an hour. Slower trains (1 hour 30 minutes) run from London Victoria and London Charing Cross. The drive takes around an hour and a half.

Two New Forest ponies standing among heather on a frosty morning in the New Forest, England

5. Head into nature in the New Forest

Designated a  national park  in 2005, the New Forest dates all the way back to 1079. So it’s anything but ”new.” And it’s not even really a forest.

Comprising woodland, bog, marshland, heathland and coast, with many quaint villages in between, the area is home to free-roaming animals, including pigs, cattle and the famed ponies. You can easily spend more than a day in the New Forest, and while there are fantastic cycling routes and hiking trails, to make the most of the region as a whole, it’s best to explore by car.

If you’re in the New Forest for just the day, focus your attention on one activity, whether that’s visiting a historic site, such as Buckler's Hard, Hurst Castle  or Beaulieu ; or following a walking trail, where you’ll be drawn in by the beautiful colors of the landscapes. Many people come to the area simply to dine at The Pig  in Brockenhurst, which celebrates home-grown and local produce (book well in advance).

How to get to the New Forest from London:  The region is slightly under a two-hour drive from central London. If traveling by train (1 hour 30 minutes from London Waterloo to Brockenhurst), consider renting bikes and following trails that take you beyond the town.

People sit on the grass on a sunny day in front of Winchester Cathedral in Winchester, England

6. Step back in time in Winchester

Travel time: 1 hour

Its fabulous cathedral officially makes  Winchester  a city – though it has more of the feel of a friendly small town. The city served as England’s capital about 1000 years ago and was the home of King Alfred the Great; today, it boasts a variety of excellent pubs, countryside walks and lively streets.

At the top of the high street is an imitation of King Arthur’s Round Table hanging in the Great Hall . Just off the high street through a short alleyway is Winchester Cathedral , a stunning building with the longest nave of any Gothic cathedral in Europe. Back on the high street, head past the statue of Alfred the Great to the River Itchen, then follow it to get to Winchester College .

How to get to Winchester from London: Trains leave London Waterloo several times an hour, and the journey time is about an hour. The drive from central London takes around 1 hour 30 minutes, and Winchester’s city center has several parking options.

The famous Royal Crescent at Bath, Somerset, England, United Kingdom

7. Marvel at Roman ruins and Regency streetscapes in Bath

Bath might be Britain ’s most beautiful city. Founded by the Romans, who used the area’s thermal springs to create a spa retreat, it’s now the premier tourist attraction of southwest England . It’s also celebrated for its magnificent Georgian architecture, with grand squares and felicitous crescents defining the city.

Start at the beginning with the Roman Baths complex, which is divided into four main parts: the Bath House, the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple and the museum, displaying fascinating finds from the ruins. Next, have a wander around Bath Abbey , a huge medieval church that you can climb to the top of. Fuel up with the substantial gastropub fare at  Marlborough Tavern .

If you have time, it's worth staying in Bath for the full weekend. Wander the streets and enjoy the architecture, including ulteney Bridge and the  Royal Crescent , two of the city’s Georgian masterpieces – then take time to relax in Thermae Bath Spa .

How to get to Bath from London: Direct trains leave London Paddington twice an hour; the journey time is 1 hour 30 minutes. Driving takes around 2 hours 30 minutes, but traffic around the city is often heavy, with parking very limited and expensive.

People enjoying the 2019 Brighton Pride Parade. Brighton, England

8. Soak up Brighton’s indie attitude

Stuffed with independent businesses and creative spirit, Brighton is often referred to as London-on-Sea – though these days that’s more a nod to property prices than a reference to its character. This city has a personality all its own – grungy, creative and bohemian – and it's one of the UK's most LGBTIQ+ friendly cities.

There’s no shortage of things to do  in Brighton. Start in the North Laine neighborhood, packed with pubs, cafes and theaters, before going shopping in The Lanes a little farther south. Make a visit to the eccentric Royal Pavilion – built by King George IV in 1787 as a seaside retreat – and take a walk along the pier while checking out the amusements and swimmers at the beach. Brighton teems with great bars and restaurants:  Food for Friends offers excellent vegan dishes and is a great spot for lunch, while the Walrus pub is a good place to grab a beer.

How to get to Brighton from London:  Get on one of the frequent direct trains from London Victoria or London Bridge. The journey time is about an hour. Since it takes about two hours to drive from London to Brighton, and parking is both hard to find and expensive, the train is generally a better option.

People on small flat-bottomed boats travel along a river lined by fields with large grand buildings

9. Tour the colleges and go punting in Cambridge

With its world-class university, clutch of ancient colleges and love for punting (river rowing), Cambridge shares many similarities with its Oxfordshire counterpart. But with more green space and less traffic, this city is a more tranquil affair. A walking tour of the university is a must: the university colleges are the highlight, with Corpus Christi, Clare College, King’s College and Christ’s College being the most popular.

Once you’ve had your fill of academia, a punting trip along the River Cam is a lovely way to see the city. On a summer’s day, a picnic on the Backs is highly enjoyable.

How to get to Cambridge from London: Trains from London Kings Cross run several times an hour, with a journey time of about 50 minutes. It takes about 90 minutes to drive to Cambridge from central London.

Costumed revelers gather for the summer solstice at Stonehenge, Wilshire, England, United Kingdom

10. Ponder the mystery of Stonehenge

Travel time: 2 hours

Stonehenge  is like an amazing magic trick – it boggles the mind, but you don’t really want to know how it happened. Which is convenient, because no one’s fully figured it out yet . Here’s what we do know: this massive, prehistoric stone circle is believed to have been constructed around 5000 years ago, making it older than the Pyramids of Giza. The largest stones weigh 25 tons and stand 9m (30ft) tall. 

Although you can’t touch the stones (to protect them), you can stroll around them on paths. The visitor center has an interactive presentation that allows you to experience among the stones as the seasons change. If you have your own ride, you could drive north to Avebury, home to another famous prehistoric circle – whose stones you can touch.

How to get to Stonehenge from London: Trains from London Waterloo to Salisbury depart twice an hour, taking just over an hour and a half. From Salisbury, hop on the Stonehenge Tour Bus , which takes you directly to the visitor center in just over 30 minutes. Alternatively, the drive takes around two hours from central London (traffic depending), and parking is available at the site.

This article was first published May 20, 2019 and updated Mar 12, 2024.

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22 of the best day trips from London

By Condé Nast Traveller and Anna Prendergast

Day trips from London 22 easy escapes from the city

London ’s hustle and bustle can become overwhelming, even for the most dedicated locals – but its handy location means that day trips from London are easy for anyone who needs a quick escape, whether it be for a country walk , a seaside jaunt or a cultural getaway. Most of our selection of the best day trips from London can be reached by train , within less than two hours – and many couldn’t be further from the busy streets and crammed schedules of the capital. Whether you’re looking for fresh air, delicious eateries or a new selection of shops, these easy-to-plan day trips should slot nicely into your schedule.

Below are 21 of our favourite day trips from London, in no particular order. For more seasonal specific inspiration, see our recommendations for winter day trips from London .

Punting on the river Stour West Gate Canterbury Kent UK

1. Canterbury, Kent

The best day trip from London for: a colourful, food-fuelled history lesson in the garden of England How to get there from London: The direct train from London St Pancras to Canterbury West can take as little as 53 minutes

Prehistoric settlements have been uncovered in this corner of Kent, and it was a popular haunt of the Romans, who surrounded the early city by constructing an earth bank and fortified walls around 130 acres of land. The story of Canterbury that schoolchildren learn, however, comes from the medieval period, courtesy of Chaucer.

The city is home to one of the UK’s most spectacular cathedrals. Pilgrims have navigated the route to this ethereal site for many centuries, and it’s here that Thomas Becket was infamously slaughtered at the order of Henry II – although this series of events has been contested by countless historians. From the cathedral, scan the selection of novels through the crooked door of the Catching Lives Charity Bookshop, before soaking up the sun in one of the city’s hidden pub gardens – The Dolphin and The Parrot are some of our favourites.

Stroll along the remnant of the ancient wall that is still accessible, or settle in for a lazy afternoon on the colourful banks of the River Stour after collecting treats from The Goods Shed. Historic river tours of the river are touristy but not overly expensive, so well worth booking ahead of a visit to uncover the secrets of these romantic, cobblestone streets. Connor Sturges

If you decide to stay over: Parts of The Falstaff Hotel date to the 13th century, and original features such as fireplaces and oak beams are a nod to the city’s medieval history. The city’s main attractions are within walking distance, and comfortable beds, craft cocktails, and a signature afternoon tea await once you are back in the cosy setting.

Elmley Nature Reserve

2. Elmley Nature Reserve

The best day trip from London for:  getting fully immersed in nature How to get there from London:  The train from London St Pancras International to Swale takes 1 hour 50 minutes and then it’s a short taxi ride to Elmley Nature Reserve

Think of day trips to  Kent  and you’ll probably skip straight over the  Isle of Sheppey . Just off the northern coast of Kent next to the Thames Estuary, Sheppey is an unglamorous largely industrial island that initially lacks the tourist appeal of some of its Kentish neighbours. But there’s a secret gem here right off the mainland – the bucolic Elmley Nature Reserve, 3,300 acres of wetlands and wilderness. This family-run estate is a true wildlife conservation haven and is the perfect trip for birdwatchers and nature lovers. With over forty varieties of birds raising their young at Elmley each year, there are some beautiful  walking trails  to spot them all, plus the other resident hares, frogs, dragonflies, cows, voles, bees and more. As soon as your taxi turns onto the long entry drive, it’s easy to see elegant birds such as egrets, lapwings and redshank happily frolicking on the flat marshlands and that’s before you’ve even started exploring. Open Wednesday to Sunday, the entry fee is £6 and that gets you access to the beautiful open landscape for a self-guided wander (although you have to stay on the paths!); they also arrange organised tours at dusk and dawn for £29.50 if you want an expert to help you spot marsh harriers, long-eared owls, sparrowhawk and peregrine falcons. It might be only 40 miles from London but it feels like another world. As well as an incredible place for a day out in nature, there’s also a lovely barn restaurant to get cosy in for toasties at lunch and more hearty evening meals, plus an impressive range of smart places to stay dotted across the reserve if you want to extend your visit.  Sonya Barber

If you decide to stay over:  From decked-out shepherd’s huts with outside baths to four poster beds in the grand 18th-century main house, there’s a wide range of places to stay – all with stunning views over the nature reserve.

Historic Stratford town on river Avon is the birthplace and gravesite of playwright and poet William Shakespeare.

3. Stratford-upon-Avon

The best day trip from London for: a Shakespearean adventure How to get there from London: a little over 2 hours by train from London mainline stations; changes are often required

There are few places more charming than the medieval market town of Stratford-upon-Avon. It’s the birthplace and resting place of Shakespeare, and it’s easy to fall in love with the West Midlands spot during a jam-packed day trip from London.

Day trips here, understandably, centre around the Bard. Start where the wordsmith’s journey began with an educational mooch around Shakespeare’s Birthplace, now a museum highlighting how his work continues to shape our lives today. From here, onto Anne Hathaway’s cottage. The family home of Anne Hathaway, William Shakespeare’s wife, is full of fascinating stories and historical finds, and passionate guides are on hand to delve into tales of the famous family that resided here for 13 generations. For the full experience, visit William’s resting place in Holy Trinity Church via Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall.

Literary associations aside, entertain young minds at the Mechanical Art and Design Museum, get tropical at the stunning Stratford Butterfly Farm, and sample a craft beer before the return journey home at The Garrick Pub Restaurant, which is purportedly the oldest boozer in the town.

In a town dating back almost 1,000 years, you’d expect to stumble across a spectral resident or two in the historical buildings. Check into one of the charming hotels during spooky season and embark on a ghost tour to hear about tales from a haunted tearoom and what some unlucky guests have experienced in one of the town centre’s four-star hotels.

If you decide to stay over: For a fittingly period stay, check into The White Swan . The property’s use as an inn dates back to the sixteenth century, and the walls hold all the charm of a Tudor property with trimmings suited to twenty-first-century travellers. Cosy by the fire after a hearty meal, and sink into four-poster beds before another day exploring Warwickshire’s attractions and natural beauty.

The best day trip from London for a VIP experience How to get there The train from London Paddington takes about 1 hour...

4. Great Garden Escape, The Newt in Somerset

The best day trip from London for: a VIP experience How to get there: The train from London Paddington takes about 1 hour 25 minutes

If you’re not the planning type, The Newt in Somerset’s Great Garden Escape is a fun-filled pre-organised day trip that shows off the best of the British countryside and its charming traditions. With a jam-packed schedule starting at Paddington station, day trippers travel First Class with breakfast served on-board. On arrival, they’ll be given a tour of the gardens at The Newt, which have been landscaped over hundreds of years and are now home to wildlife including deer and newts – of course. There's even an opportunity to explore the grounds with experts, along with a dive into the history and traditions of Somerset. Plus, a stopover at the incredible Roman Villa Experience.

Lunch leads into a cyder tasting, made on-site using apples grown in local orchards, where you’ll undoubtedly be swayed into picking up a bottle or two to take home. When you’ve breathed in just enough country air, the train journey home serves up afternoon tea, depositing you back in the city just in time for sundowners. The whirlwind tour is the ideal tonic for shaking off burnout and reminding yourself of the beauty on your doorstep. Abigail Malbon

If you decide to stay over : Should you choose to forego the train ride home in favour of waking up somewhere new, The Newt is a Jane Austen dream, whether you choose a room in the Georgian house or the converted outbuildings, barns and stables. Bedrooms are simple and beautiful, with a focus on relaxation, but those with a view are truly exceptional. In the morning, wake up early and treat yourself to a swim in the spa pool as the sun comes up – you’ll return to London feeling like a new person.

Clifton in Bristol

5. Clifton, Bristol

The best day trip from London for : packing a lot in How to get there from London: The train from London Paddington takes about 1 hour 35 minutes.

After hopping off the train at Bristol Temple Meads, take a stroll to Clifton – the city’s most beautiful leafy suburb. Quiet residential streets are lined with pretty Georgian townhouses , spots of greenery to wander through off the cobbled streets and an eclectic mix of independent cafés, restaurants and shops.

Start with a gander around Clifton Arcade in the heart of Clifton Village, where the 17 boutiques are filled with knick-knacks and intriguing antiques. It’s not a true shopping experience without a pit stop for coffee and cake – try one of Bristol’s top coffee spots, Spicer + Cole, or – for a 100-per-cent plant-based menu – refuel with a slice of rose and vanilla loaf and a superfood latte at East Village Café.

Pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables from the local greengrocers and head to Clifton bridge for fabulous views across the River Avon. It's one of the oldest surviving iron suspension bridges in the world. Learn about its history at the Visitor Centre, stopping off for a pint of traditional Somerset cider at the White Lion by its side. Continue the historical tour by walking up to Clifton Observatory, which has a museum featuring a Victorian-era Camera Obscura and a mythical Giant’s Cave, alongside its own rooftop café serving up breathtaking views. And don’t miss out on a walk down Royal York Crescent – one of the most expensive streets in Bristol, which was also once reputed to be the longest terrace in Europe .

Next, spend time at Bristol Lido, a restored Victorian swimming bath from the 1800s surrounded by a spa and poolside bar for the ultimate in pampering. Round off the day with a cosy pub meal at The Albion, an Indian fine-dining experience at Nutmeg or a hearty pizza at Bosco around the corner on Whiteladies Road. Cordelia Aspinall

If you decide to stay over: Book a room at the recently refurbished Number 38 boutique hotel for a peaceful stay overlooking the Clifton Downs, perfect for your morning stroll.

The best day trip from London for soaking up history How to get there from London The train from London Victoria takes 1...

6. Bath, Somerset

The best day trip from London for: soaking up history How to get there from London: The train from London Victoria takes 1 hour 20 minutes.

Bath is known for its history, but among the buttery-hued Georgian architecture and ancient thermal springs there’s a fresh independent spirit. When the weather is good, there are a couple of brilliant walking routes to try: the six-mile Bath Skyline , for example, is a short stroll from the city centre and tramps through woodland, meadows and orchards with views of the buildings below.

The Somerset city’s literary heritage is well documented – Jane Austen is probably the most famous one-time resident – and there’s still a thriving network of bookshops and literature festivals here, including at bookworm magnet Topping and Company, which stocks more than 55,000 titles. Restaurants are driven by excellent local produce and seasonal ingredients. Grab a traditional lunch at The Circus (we recommend the Wiltshire lamb two ways) or order bun cha at Vietnamese spot Noya’s Kitchen. After a bite, shop at clever concept stores such as Nām, which sells antique furniture and homeware curated by owner Sharan Kaur, and Found, where you can buy clothes from niche global brands, or spend an afternoon at wine bar Corkage, where about 70 bottles are available to sample by the glass. Sarah James

If you decide to stay over: Small hotel Eight lives up to its name; there are just eight rooms, and the ground-floor restaurant always has eight dishes on the menu.

The best day trip from London for woodland walks and long pub lunches How to get there from London The train from London...

7. The New Forest, Hampshire

The best day trip from London for : woodland walks and long pub lunches How to get there from London: The train from London Waterloo usually takes about 1 hour 45 minutes

With its purple carpets of heather, ancient woodland and England-of-yore villages, the New Forest has long been a release valve for Londoners eager to clear the cobwebs and the cortisol. The apex of its beauty has to be autumn, when its rich hues cut through morning mists and dazzle in the afternoon sun. It's best enjoyed during a long ramble, where you’re likely to meet free-roaming New Forest ponies, cattle and even pigs, followed by a hearty pub lunch with local ale and a warming log fire.

Take the train from Waterloo to Beaulieu Road station and fuel your hike with a pint of real ale at the Drift Inn. If independent shops, cafés and beaches are on the agenda, it’s best to head to Lymington instead, as this one-and-a-half-hour loop around the pub on the edge of the New Forest is blissfully rugged and remote. Having traipsed through a mixed mosaic of woodland and absorbed the silence and sweeping views across the heathland, hunker down at the Drift Inn for a Hampshire beef burger, ale-battered haddock or the pie of the day (invariably something along the lines of mud pie with mash and gravy). Rosalyn Wikeley

If you decide to stay over : Those seeking the quintessential heather-and-wild-ponies New Forest should bed down at The Pig hotel in Brockenhurst or Limewood near Lyndhurst (about five minutes from the Drift Inn). However, the trusted favourite among New Forest devotees, Chewton Glen continues to lure weary urbanites with its coveted position – wedged between woodland and the coast – and commitment to the good, old-fashioned service and comforts of a country club. You’ll find few zeitgeisty design details or next-gen touches here. Instead, antiques, thick carpets and mahogany furniture keep this 18th-century manor house sure of its identity – save a few fun treehouse bedrooms, should privacy or the 21st century fall into your criteria. Don’t miss the fresh salads and fish lunches once you’ve been pummelled in the spa or worked up an appetite in the Grecian-style pool. The gardens are also glorious for afternoon tea after visiting Highcliffe beach.

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The best day trip from London for pubcrawling and country walks How to get there from London The train from Finsbury...

8. Hertford, Hertfordshire

The best day trip from London for : pub-crawling and country walks How to get there from London: The train from Finsbury Park takes 35 minutes

With its higgledy-piggledy, pastel-coloured buildings and cobbled streets, this county town serves up a slice of English antiquity that’s postcard-pretty enough to satisfy both shiny-eyed visitors from further afield and weary Londoners searching for fresher air, shorter queues and somewhere different to look at for the day. With trains running every half hour, it’s possible to find yourself marching around its 15th-century castle grounds (check ahead for cinema screenings, talks and events), net fishing from a sandy cove in Hartham Common or wandering about its dinky museum within the hour. Alternatively, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can cycle from London along the River Lea towpath.

On arrival, dip into its handful of local shops – The Women's Society Boutique has an imposing exterior but is a real treasure trove – before stopping at one of the many independent cafés and restaurants. Popular deli-bar Giambrone’s serves authentic Italian plates, while Hertford Coffee Lab makes for a cool pit-stop, and Georgian townhouse and B&B Number One Port Hill hosts occasional pop-up suppers. Plus, the artsy Dog and Whistle, once a pop-up café, has blossomed into a hipster foodie pub and music venue with rooms. Indeed, Hertford – quiet market town by day and more bustling nightspot come evening – specialises in pubs, particularly old-world ones. There's The Salisbury Arms Hotel, said to have been the place where Oliver Cromwell stayed during the Civil War and home to a number of ghosts; the 16th-century White Horse; the 17th-century Blackbirds; and the riverside Old Barge (exact age unknown, but 'old' is part of the name…). If you have time, go on the three-mile walk to Ware alongside the River Lea towpath – the neighbouring town also has a plethora of pubs – and catch the train back to London from there. Becky Lucas

If you decide to stay over: Hertford House Hotel took over the former local newspaper’s offices in pretty Parliament Square in 2006 and hasn’t stopped evolving since, with its latest restaurant and bar renovation completed in autumn 2020. Don’t miss out on brunch in the secret garden, a locally sourced roast in the restaurant and a pint in smart sister pub The Quiet Man.

The best day trip from London for an undertheradar getaway How to get there from London The fast train from St Pancras...

9. Deal, Kent

The best day trip from London for: an under-the-radar getaway How to get there from London: The fast train from St Pancras International takes 1 hour 22 minutes

This hillside scribble of Georgian streets tucked behind the Kent coast really hit our radar in 2018. Nicknamed ‘Margate’s little sister’, it’s a much cosier, countryside version of its arty neighbour. And that’s exactly its appeal. Deal is less shouty than Margate , but there’s still an exciting slew of shops, cafés and galleries that have arrived over the past few years. The Saturday Market stalls are worth a rummage, but it’s the food that brings the locals back each weekend. For more of a sit-down lunch we love Frog and Scot where the chef, previously of The Sportsman in Seasalter, cooks up a daily changing menu based on hyper-local produce. Founder of Smugglers Records Will Greenham (ex singer and guitarist of the band Cocos Lovers, who’ve supported Mumford & Sons on tour) is at the heart of the town’s music scene, and in terms of art, Linden Hall Studio is a contemporary gallery in a converted chapel that wouldn’t look out of place in Mayfair. Tabitha Joyce

If you decide to stay over: The Rose was revamped in 2018 and now there are eight cute bedrooms splashed in bold colours and filled with vintage finds. The restaurant is looked after by Rachel O’Sullivan (previously of East London’s Towpath Café) who dishes up Scandi-inspired breakfast plates of smoked salmon, avocado, soft-boiled egg, dill and whipped cream cheese.

Read more about Deal, Kent

The best day trip from London for oysters on the beach How to get there from London The train from from St Pancras takes...

10. Whitstable, Kent

The best day trip from London for: oysters on the beach How to get there from London : The train from from St Pancras takes 1hr 13 minutes

This little town on the north Kent coast isn’t quite the sort-of-secret it was back in the 1990s, when DFLs (local jargon for Londoners) rediscovered it, arriving at weekends for seafood at Wheelers on the high street and pints of Kentish ale at the beach-side Old Neptune pub. But it’s still an atmospheric place to head for a hit of vitamin B12 – via a dozen or so oysters – then a scrunch along the shingle shore, spotting Second World War sea forts across the waves and seals in the harbour. There are plenty of places to eat: avoid the overpriced Royal Native Oyster Stores and head instead to JoJo’s, just down the road in Tankerton, for mackerel fillets and Med-inspired small plates. Or Samphire, a Whitstable bistro with cuttlefish risotto and Romney Marsh lamb on the menu. There’s also a thriving micropub scene here, with The Handsome Sam, The Black Dog, and the larger Twelve Taps for hoppy experimentation. But our favourite pastime is picking up a pot of cockles and whelks from the quayside, or fish and chips and oysters from The Forge shack, and devouring them in the shade of a wooden groyne on the beach, preferably with a bottle of English fizz to hand. Rick Jordan

If you decide to stay over: The Victorian fisherman’s huts on the beach are the best place in which to hole up, the sound of waves and boat masts jangling in the wind outside, and can be booked via Hotel Continental. Along the coast in Seasalter is the Driftwood Beach House B&B .

The best day trip from London for a bracingly fresh seaside getaway How to get there from London The train from St...

11. Rye, East Sussex

The best day trip from London for : a bracingly fresh seaside getaway How to get there from London: The train from St Pancras International takes about 1 hour 10 minutes with a change at Ashford International.

Rye is home to what might just be Britain ’s prettiest (and most prettily named) street, and a wave of newcomers have moved in alongside the quaint old-timers in Mermaid Street and beyond, opening smart interiors stores and artisan bakeries next to unironically vintage tea rooms and souvenir shops. After breakfast at Whitehouse Rye – order the halloumi hash – pick up a new read at The Tiny Book Store (the clue’s in the name) and window shop for that fantasy mansion at striking antiques shop Strand House Interiors. The blustery dunes and invigorating waters of Camber Sands, one of the best beach near London , are a 15 minute ride away on the local bus, but head back in time for a rustic supper at Tuscan Rye, where fresh pasta (ricotta ravioli with brown-butter sauce, potato and thyme tortellini in a rich ragu) draws loyal locals. Sarah James

If you decide to stay over: Book a room at the lively George in Rye , which welcomes A-list guests (George Clooney and Helena Bonham Carter have both checked in for sleepovers) and smart locals in the same breath.

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The best day trip from London for a cultural day out How to get there from London the fast train from London St Pancras...

12. Margate, Kent

The best day trip from London for : a cultural day out How to get there from London: the fast train from London St Pancras takes 1 hour 25 minutes.

It’s no secret that this Victorian seaside town has had quite the hipster renaissance in recent years, sparked mostly by the arrival of the Turner Contemporary gallery in 2011 and spurred on by a slew of new openings and a wave of Londoners upping sticks and moving down to the Kent coast. For a cultural outing, the waterside Turner Contemporary is still a must. Entry is free so it’s worth popping in even if you’ve never heard of the artists on show, and the shop has some nice local products. For more contemporary art head to Crate, an artist-led project space in an old printworks. If you’d prefer something older – much older – wander over to the most ancient building in town, the Tudor House, a Grade II-listed 16th-century timber-framed house on King Street. It’s on your route from the seafront to the mysterious Shell Grotto, a spooky set of underground tunnels covered in more than four million shells.

A trip to Margate isn’t complete without a few hours in Dreamland, whether it’s for some spins on the rides or to see one of the amusement park’s impressive line-up of gigs in the evenings. Do take a stroll around town to hit up the vintage shops selling retro clothes, furniture and homewares, where you can still find some decent bargains. And don’t forget to head over to Cliff Terrace to visit the flagship store of cult natural skincare brand Haeckels, which makes divine-smelling beauty products using seaweed gathered on the beach nearby. Speaking of the beach, if you want to go swimming walk along the coast to Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, a man-made sea lagoon where you can find calm waters and steps for easier access. If you arrive early (or stay the night), tuck into cracking breakfast at Storeroom coffee shop or at Cliffs, where there’s also a record shop, a hair salon and a yoga studio. In fact, the whole up-and-coming area of Cliftonville is worth exploring. After all that roaming, great seafood can be found for dinner at either Angela’s or Hantverk & Found – reserve a table in advance though, as both get booked up. Sonya Barber

If you decide to stay over: The best beds in town are at The Reading Rooms , a boutique b&b in a restored Georgian townhouse a few minutes’ walk from the seafront. Be sure you don’t have to rush off in the morning as they’ll bring breakfast to your room so you can eat it overlooking the leafy square.

Read more about Margate's best things to do

The best day trip from London for fairweather walkers How to get there from London The train from London Victoria takes...

13. Eastbourne, East Sussex

The best day trip from London for : fair-weather walkers How to get there from London : The train from London Victoria takes 1 hour 30 minutes.

Eastbourne is an old-timey British seaside town with a Victorian pier, a pebble beach, and a much-loved bandstand where tribute acts reign: ‘Queen’, ‘ABBA’, ‘Frank Sinatra’ and ‘Lady Gaga’ have all played. You could spend the day taking in the town’s thriving art galleries, with plenty of opportunities for refuelling stops along the way (our favourite is the stripped-back-trendy Nelson Coffee Co opposite the station) but the real draw here is enjoying the great outdoors at Beachy Head, where you’ll find the famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs. A hike with seriously impressive views out to sea runs across the top. Wander all the way along to neighbouring Seaford or make one of the secret beaches tucked away at the foot of the cliffs your way point. It’s a steep climb down, but Falling Sands Beach is quiet and sandy and well worth the adventure. Eastbourne often makes the list of the sunniest places in the UK, so don’t forget your sunglasses. Olivia Holborow

If you decide to stay over: Book into the Beachy Head holiday cottages – there’s a choice of 8, all set around a rambling walled garden with fruit and vegetables you can help yourself to.

An insider guide to the South Downs

The best day trip from London for blasting the cobwebs away by the sea How to get there from London The train from...

14. Brighton, East Sussex

The best day trip from London for : blasting the cobwebs away by the sea How to get there from London : The train from London Victoria takes 1 hour 34 minutes.

Brighton is a brilliant mish-mash of retro, seaside fun and progressive culture. Book in advance and you can get return tickets from London for as little as £10. A maze of bunting-lined streets, The Lanes bursts at the seams with vintage shops – don’t miss Beyond Retro and Dirty Harry, and our two favourite independent boutiques, Our Daily Edit and Peggs & Son, as well as retro memorabilia (navigate the turnstile at Snoopers Paradise for collectors’ items, vinyl, and furniture). Time your day trip to include breakfast at Kensingtons – grab a table on the balcony for giant plates piled high with eggs, toast and beans. It’s not the easiest spot to find, so look out for a shop called Artemis on Kensington Gardens, which overflows with sheepskin rugs and pelts – the café is on the left; follow the smell of bacon up the stairs. Later, reserve a table at Food for Friends, a superb veggie restaurant with award-winning flavours and presentation. A short walk away is the huge 8km pebbly beach – the section near the Palace Pier is dotted with stripy deckchairs and usually buzzing from spring to autumn (and often absolutely crammed in summer). There’s something terribly British about layering up and enjoying a windswept walk in the winter months, too. Reward yourself with a bag of hot, sugary donuts from the pier.

If you decide to stay over : Walk along the seafront to The Ginger Pig, a restaurant-with-rooms with pre-mixed cocktails in the minibars and Cowshed bottles by the standalone bathtubs.

The best restaurants in Brighton

The best day trip from London for history buffs and vintage hunters How to get there from London The train from London...

15. Lewes, Sussex

The best day trip from London for : history buffs and vintage hunters How to get there from London : The train from London Victoria takes just over 1 hour.

Lewes: the market town in the South Downs that sits against a backdrop of chalk hills and green peaks. Cobblestoned 'twittens' (narrow streets), handpainted shop signs and crumbling tiles from the 1960s make it feel like a town time forgot, and its slower rhythm makes for a reinvigorating gear-change. The Needlemakers on West Street is home to a range of small, independent shops that sell local craftsmanship, from jewellery to books – Alexis Dove is a favourite for delicate silverware and Susie Petrou has an eye for vintage blouses and Romanian embroidery. There’s an incongruous well at the bottom by the vintage shops – throw in a penny for good luck before you start hunting through piles of clothes and bags. Lewes Flea Market is an alluring source for antique furniture and quirky homeware, and is open daily (not to be confused with the outdoor Sunday market, which is also worth a visit). At the other end of town, at the bottom of Cliffe High Street, you can find Bill Collison’s very first Bill’s restaurant, a European deli-turned-eatery, where you can get hearty dishes such as pumpkin, fig and chestnut roast, or a beef, bacon and camembert burger. After lunch, ponder the paperbacks at the Fifteenth Century Bookshop, which has been carefully restored in recent years but remains as much of a landmark as Lewes Castle. Finish the day with a pint; Harvey’s Brewery is the only independent brewery in Sussex and provides the John Harvey Tavern over the road with local cask ales (download the self-titled app to find out where you can get it in London).

If you decide to stay over : Head to Firle for a night at The Ram Inn , and enjoy crisp linen and generous breakfasts served by an open fire.

The best day trip from London for a coastal upandcomer How to get there from London The fast train from London St...

16. Folkestone, Kent

The best day trip from London for: a coastal up-and-comer How to get there from London : The fast train from London St Pancras to Ashford takes 40 minutes, where you can change for Folkestone Central.

The seaside town of Folkestone is mid-makeover, which is the ideal time to visit – before everything gets priced up and the place’s quirks glossed over. The appeal of Sunny Sands beach is self-explanatory – this tiny, windswept slip of sand is one of the best beaches in Kent and the ideal spot to kick off your day (unsurprisingly, it fills up with families wielding buckets and spades, sticky with sunscreen, too). A trio of swashbuckling pubs and restaurants – The Ship Inn, The Mariner and The Captain’s Table – lines the seafront, but the real treasure can be found in the Creative Quarter. At the bottom of The Old High Street is Bounce Vintage, an open space with rails full of retro sportswear, French chore jackets and Aloha shirts. If you exchange smiles and pleasantries with the rosy-cheeked owners, they might just offer you an espresso on the house. Failing that, further up the road, Steep Street sells specialty coffee, homemade cake and books . Floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall shelves of hardbacks tower over fat leather armchairs and blackboard tables that you can doodle on in chalk. There are endless places to eat and drink around town: Rocksalt for a smart menu and sea views; Papas for old-fashioned fish’n’chips ; Beano’s for veggies; La Casa Del Bello Gelato for ice cream Follies for pizza and The Pullman for pints. The Harbour Arm, though, is where Folkestone’s own folk go – the Champagne bar hidden in the lighthouse at the end is rustic, romantic, and completely charming.

If you decide to stay over : Book a room at the Linen Shed , a dove-grey, weatherboarded house on the old Roman road to Canterbury.

The best restaurants in Kent

The best day trip from London for a traditional slice of British culture How to get there from London The Oxford Tube...

17. Oxford, Oxfordshire

The best day trip from London for : a traditional slice of British culture How to get there from London : The Oxford Tube coach service takes 1 hour 30 minutes and runs until 3am; trains also run from Paddington and Marylebone stations and take 1 hour.

In one of the most quintessentially English cities in the UK (and the most expensive to live in outside London), cream tea is not just a rite of passage – it’s a requirement. And there’s only one place to take it – The Vaults & Garden Café, signposted by the presence of an antique bicycle with a flowerbed in its basket, is a gorgeous 14th-century building surrounded by colleges (Oriel, Brasenose, Murton, All Souls), where scones come loaded with clotted cream and seasonal homemade jam (the café has serious sustainability credentials, too). Architecture is a major draw in Oxford ; the libraries, bridges and even cinemas feature Palladian domes, Norman design, ziggurat influences and listed buildings which make this a city to see on foot (Radcliffe Square is a must, and it’s worth paying £4 to climb the tower at the Church of St Mary The Virgin for the best view of Oxford). If you’re taking kids, the Pitt Rivers Museum is packed with bizarre artefacts and stories they’ll tell their friends about, and The Story Museum welcomes you through a wardrobe into Narnia and other fictional worlds of wonder. If you booked a babysitter, however, grab a drink at the brilliant Freud bar in Jericho – a stained-glass church-turned-cool-cocktail-bar that is grown-up enough to feel sophisticated but studenty enough to have plenty of atmosphere and frivolity in the air (or perhaps it’s something in the drinks).

If you decide to stay over : There are plenty of lovely hotels in the Cotswolds , such as The Wild Rabbit – the latest outpost from eco-queen Carole Bamford of Daylesford Organic fame.

The best day trip from London for peoplewatching and scenery How to get there from London The train from London Kings...

18. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

The best day trip from London for : people-watching and scenery How to get there from London : The train from London King’s Cross takes 45 minutes.

Like cycling in Amsterdam or taking trams in San Francisco , punting really is the most sophisticated way to see the city of Cambridge and the university grounds. Scudamore’s is the oldest ‘chauffeur’ company and offers a more traditional tour, but board a boat from the Garret Hostel Bridge for a younger, more humorous experience (ask your punter why the GHB is also known as Orgasm Bridge). For lunch, foodPark is a top hawker convoy of Sri Lankan curries, wood-fired pizza and open-wide burgers that sets up from 12pm until 2pm in varying locations around Cambridge from Wednesday to Friday. For something more upscale, book one of Galleria’s terrace tables on the south side of the Magdalene Bridge, with British fusion food and views of the River Cam (your gluten- and dairy-free friends will thank you, as there are two separate menus specifically catering to their diets). In the autumn, the leaf-covered colleges are particularly picturesque as they turn red and rust, and in spring, Parker’s Piece is a scenic stretch of greenery from which to navigate (spot the lamppost that supposedly inspired the post in CS Lewis’ Narnia). From here, find eccentric English shop Bowes & Co, Fitzbillies for iced buns, Aromi for Italian nibbles, Kettle’s Yard art gallery and G David for antique books. Finish your day with the choral evensong at King’s College Chapel around 5.30pm: goosebumps guaranteed. For more ideas, see our guide to the best things to do in Cambridge .

If you decide to stay over : It doesn’t get much better than the iconic University Arms hotel , reopened in 2018 after a serious reboot.

The best day trip from London for wellywielding outdoorsy types How to get there from London The train from London...

19. Ashdown Forest, East Sussex

The best day trip from London for: welly-wielding outdoorsy types How to get there from London : The train from London Victoria takes 1 hour to East Grinstead (a 15-minute drive from Forest Row).

AA Milne famously wrote the stories of Winnie the Pooh while living just north of Ashdown Forest. Known as 100 Acre Wood in Pooh’s world, the forest is home to the spellbinding stories and is an enchanting place to stretch your legs for a day, easily accessible via East Grinstead station. Stretches of open heathland give way to leafy walkways and carpets of bluebells in spring, where the woods teem with wildlife (spot fallow deer, badgers and the odd friendly pheasant – no honey-eating bears, though), and the only noise is birdsong. You can even visit Pooh Bridge (for a game of Poohsticks, naturally), but be warned, it’s a prominent tourist spot. Pooh was a big fan of having ‘a little smackerel of something’, and nearby village Forest Row has plenty of places for elevenses. Taffels deli is a family-run café and much-loved lunch spot (there is nothing skinny about the skinny chips; they are double-fried and divine) and caters to all dietary requirements, while Java & Jazz serves huge hot chocolates cakes and crispy-crusted pizza. For proper pub food, the cosy Hatch Inn (one of our favourite country pubs near London ) is known for roasts with all the trimmings and offers plenty of dog-patting opportunities. If you’re not in a hurry to get home, head to Linton’s car park – locally known as ‘the viewpoint’ – for sunset.

If you decide to stay over : Gravetye Manor is a very English Elizabethan country-house classic and one of our favourite weekend breaks in the UK .

The best day trip from London for nature enthusiasts How to get there from London The drive to Romney Marsh via the A20...

20. Dungeness, Kent

The best day trip from London for : nature enthusiasts How to get there from London : The drive to Romney Marsh via the A20 and M20 takes 2 hours.

Arriving in Dungeness from London feels a little like stepping out of a Tardis into a different time zone, where a recent apocalypse has left the landscape barren, the wildlife overrun, the buildings flattened, and the population dramatically compromised (in fact, the Dungeness Power Station appeared in Doctor Who in 1971). Unofficially known as ‘Britain’s only desert’, Dungeness has a unique environment – single-storey buildings appear to have been swallowed by the shingle and plants let loose with little regard for human-imposed order. The beach resembles a mass shipwreck; abandoned fishing boats, crumbling shacks, winches and forgotten tractors coated in decades of rust sit, untouched, unmoved and as mysterious as a Russell T Davies plot. There’s not a whole lot to do here – but there’s so much to see, and so much to pique your curiosity that you’ll spend the journey back Googling the area. Kids will love the sheer strangeness of it all, and it’s impossible to resist the childlike urge to climb and run and play. Few places so close to London feel like such an adventure; the journey can take less than two hours and, if you time it right, you can order the catch of the day for lunch from roadside hut the Snack Shack, which does the freshest fish, lobster rolls and ice-cold cans of San Pellegrino.

If you decide to stay over : You’ll have to venture out of Dungeness – try The Rose in Deal , a grown-up bolthole splashed with bold colours and covetable vintage finds.

The best day trip from London for switching off How to get there from London The train from London Waterloo to Dorking...

The best day trip from London for : switching off How to get there from London: The train from London Waterloo to Dorking takes 50 minutes.

Surrey’s proximity to London makes the journey a breeze – and it’s an especially astute pick if you’re likely to be coming with a car full of little ones. At Henry VIII’s home Hampton Court Palace, there are family-friendly events such as beast quests and ghost tours, as well as the famous giant hedge maze, where adventurous kids can lead the troops. In winter, an ice rink is set against the historic backdrop of the palace, a building whose grandiose architecture is shaped by both the Tudor and Baroque periods. If you’re escaping the city (and the kids), however, check in at Grayshott Health Spa, a traditional country home with cutting-edge treatments. Surrounded by 47 acres of flowering gardens, it’s a peaceful place to step back and take stock. Connect with nature at Kew, too, where the Royal Botanic Gardens are open to the public all year round. The winter light show is particularly mesmerising, when the sun starts to sink earlier and earlier. Be sure to take cash for mince pies and mulled wine as you wander through the grounds. Having been awarded a Michelin star , Steve Drake’s restaurant Sorrel in Dorking (a market town with chocolate-box charm) is currently the county’s hottest restaurant with the most exciting ‘discovery menu’.

If you decide to stay over : Surrey is home to some of the best spas near London , such as Grayshott, where the Manor House rooms offer faded charm.

Hastings

22. Hastings and St Leonards

The best day trip from London for:  old-school seaside charm How to get there from London:  The fast train from London St Pancras International takes 1 hour 32 minutes with a change at Ashford International

There’s almost too much to fit into a one-day visit to Hastings, especially if you want to pop over to the neighbouring town of St Leonards. Over the last few years, these two  East Sussex  enclaves have become a popular bolthole for burnt-out Londoners looking for a bohemian seaside escape. To see what all the fuss is about, head straight to explore Hasting’s quaint Old Town, a picturesque maze of streets sandwiched between two dramatic cliffs. Pedestrianised scenic George Street is where most of the action happens, with a thrum of cafés, shops and pubs, but it’s worth wandering the surrounding streets too. Seek out AG Hendy & Co on the High Street for well-curated vintage homewares and stop into  The Crown  for cosy pub grub made with excellent local produce. If you’re up for a wander, get the funicular up and walk along to the cliff to Fairlight Glen, a beautiful secluded beach where clothing is optional. Or if that sounds a bit much, stay in the Old Town and explore the dramatic black fisherman’s huts on Rock-A-Nore beach where there’s Hastings Contemporary art gallery, a tiny shipwreck museum, fresh seafood stalls and a very cute miniature railway. Next up, take the 40-minute amble along the beach past the pier to St Leonards and stop off for food at the fabulous seafront café, Goat Ledge. It’s worth the trip for their crispy panko fish baps and katsu curry sauce chips alone. Nearby, there are great independent shops selling everything from candles to kimonos on Norman Road and King’s Road where you can easily spend a few hours happily browsing and café hopping before settling into dinner at Michelin-recommended pub The Royal.  Sonya Barber

If you decide to stay over:  Book into  The Old Rectory , a bijou  b&b  in Hasting’s Old Town with treatment rooms and a walled garden.

London in Real Life

35 Easy Day Trips from London + 24 to Avoid

If you’re visiting Europe, it makes sense to make the most of your time in England with a day trip from London.

I get a lot of emails asking which day trips from London are feasible, and which ones aren’t. Here I’ve compiled the most common destinations that travelers ask about and analyze whether they’re fit for a day trip or need more time.

Let’s go over the best day trips from London that won’t leave you totally depleted, and explore the day trips from London that just aren’t realistic.

day trips from london that are feasible, and day trips from london that aren't. map of Europe with London in the center and a train graphic with arrows

Disclosure: I only recommend products & services I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read my full privacy policy here .

Day Trips from London that are Absolutely Feasible ✅

Please note that these travel times are approximate and can vary based on specific starting points in London, traffic, specific train schedules, and other factors. Always check current travel times before planning a trip using Google Maps or my favorite app: Citymapper .

This is not an exhaustive list – that would take up the whole of the internet 😉

1. Oxford ✅

  • Drive: 1.5 hours
  • Train: 1 hour 

Famous for its prestigious university, Oxford offers beautiful architecture, museums, and the Bodleian Library.

Oxford is one of the best day trips from London by train. It’s like stepping into the Harry Potter films, and it’s such a short train ride to be transported a world away.

2. Cambridge ✅

image of cambridge from the River Cam with text: "1 hour day trip from London"

  • Train: 50 minutes

Another charming, ancient university town with punting on the River Cam and the stunning King’s College Chapel.

Cambridge is truly magical and makes for one of the easiest day trips from London by train.

3. Brighton ✅

  • Drive: 2 hours
  • Train: 1 hour  

A vibrant seaside town with a pier, the Royal Pavilion, and quirky shopping lanes.

If you want a day trip from London by train that takes you to the beach, Brighton is the way to go!

  • Drive: 4 hours
  • Train: 2.5 hours 

A historic city with a rich Viking and Roman heritage. While it’s possible to visit in a day, you may may feel rushed as there’s lots to see here!

5. Windsor ✅

  • Drive: 1 hour
  • Train: 50 minutes  

Visit Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. I always encourage London travelers to fit this in if they have time, as it’s much more magical than Buckingham Palace.

6. Canterbury ✅

Home to the magnificent Canterbury Cathedral and a charming medieval town center. This day trip from London by train will take you worlds away in just 1 hour.

image of the roman baths and bath cathedral in the background. text: "Bath, 1 hour day trip from london"

  • Drive: 2.5 hours
  • Train: 1.5 hours  

Known for its Roman-built baths and Georgian architecture, Bath is a picturesque town in the Cotswolds. This is one of the best day trips from London by train because once you arrive in Bath, it’s all walkable straight from the train station.

8. Stonehenge ✅

  • Train (to Salisbury, then bus): 1.5 hours 

The iconic prehistoric monument is a super popular day trip from London. Many tour companies offer excellent Stonehenge tours in conjunction with other nearby attractions like Windsor and Bath for a really affordable price.

Personally, I don’t think Stonehenge on its own is worth the trip, but if you book with a company that also takes you to other iconic locations on the way, it’s totally worth it.

9. Stratford-upon-Avon ✅

  • Train: 2 hours 

The birthplace of William Shakespeare! So much charming history, and a great day trip for students and history lovers.

teal background with graphic of London travel guide on ipad. Text says "Planning your london trip? The easiest way to do it is right here." Button graphic with "learn more"

10. Cotswolds ✅

  • Train (to various towns): 1.5-2.5 hours 

Picturesque villages and rolling hills. Bath is the most visited place in the Cotswolds, but there’s so much more to explore here, especially if you drive or rent a car there .

11. Bristol ✅

A vibrant city with a rich maritime history. Bristol is a great day trip from London if you want a larger city (not a small village) with more things to do.

12. Winchester ✅

The ancient capital of England with a stunning cathedral. This place is charming as heck.

13. Blenheim Palace ✅

image of a bridge at Blenheim palace with text: "1.5 hour day trip from london"

  • Train (to Oxford, then bus): 1.5 hours 

A monumental country house and UNESCO World Heritage site. Blenheim Palace is truly magical, and well worth the trip from London.

14. Bletchley Park ✅

  • Train: 40 minutes 

The historic site where British codebreakers decrypted German codes during WWII. History and science nerds – this one is your best bet. So much world history happened here!

15. Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour ✅

  • Train: 20 minutes to Watford Junction, then a shuttle bus, though most tour companies include transport from Central London.  

Dive into the magical world with The Making of Harry Potter tour, a must for fans of the series.

This is the most popular day trip from London, and tickets often sell out months ahead. Read all my tips to scoring tickets here.

16. Hampton Court Palace ✅

  • Train: 35 minutes  

A historic palace once home to Henry VIII, showcasing Tudor and Baroque architecture. Fans of SIX the Musical and history nerds, you have to go!

image of a medieval street in Rye with text: "Rye: 1.5 hour day trip from london"

  • Train: 1.5 hours 

A medieval town with cobbled streets, historic buildings, and a rich smuggling history. A super charming, quaint little village!

18. Leeds Castle ✅

  • Train: 1 hour to Maidstone, then a local bus 

A picturesque castle set on two islands in a tranquil lake.

19. Hever Castle ✅

  • Train: 40 minutes to Hever, then a short walk 

The childhood home of Anne Boleyn, set within beautiful gardens.

20. Salisbury ✅

A historic city close to Stonehenge, home to the impressive Salisbury Cathedral.

Known for its magnificent cathedral and the historic home of Oliver Cromwell.

22. St Albans ✅

day trips london nature

  • Train: 20 minutes 

A historic market town boasting Roman ruins and a stunning cathedral.

23. Rochester ✅

A town steeped in history with its Norman castle, cathedral, and Charles Dickens connections.

24. Hatfield House ✅

  • Train: 20 minutes

 This is a lesser-known day trip from London to a really incredible spot. Hatfield House is a Jacobean house with sprawling gardens, once the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth I.

25. Sissinghurst Castle Garden ✅

  • Train: 1 hour to Staplehurst, then a local bus 

A historic estate renowned for its beautifully designed gardens by Vita Sackville-West.

26. Cardiff, Wales ✅

  • Drive: 3 hours

Wales is the closest country to England , so if your goal is to just get to another country cheaply and quickly, go to Cardiff!

The capital of Wales, Cardiff boasts a blend of historic and modern attractions. The Cardiff Castle, located in the city center, showcases 2,000 years of history, while the Cardiff Bay offers a modern waterfront with dining and entertainment options.

27. Dover ✅

image of the white cliffs of Dover as seen from the beach with text: "Dover: 1.5 hour day trip by train from london"

  • Train: 1.5 hours

Famous for its iconic White Cliffs, Dover also offers the impressive Dover Castle. The port town is a gateway to the continent, with ferries frequently departing for France.

On a clear day, you can actually see France from the cliffs!

28. Birmingham ✅

As the UK’s second-largest city, Birmingham offers a mix of cool experiences. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Cadbury World, and the historic Jewellery Quarter are among its top attractions.

29. Lille, France ✅

Hop on the Eurostar and be in another country in 1 hour and 22 minutes ! Lille, located in the Hauts-de-France region, is a vibrant city with a rich blend of French and Flemish influences. It’s not nearly as big as Paris, so it’s perfect for a day trip from London.

30. Southend-on-Sea ✅

  • Train: 1 hour

A popular seaside resort, Southend offers the longest pleasure pier in the world. With its beaches, arcades, and Adventure Island amusement park, it’s a fun destination for families.

31. Broadstairs ✅

Image of the beach and flowers at Broadstairs with text: "1.5 hour train from london"

A charming coastal town, Broadstairs boasts sandy beaches and a rich history. It’s known for its association with Charles Dickens, who visited frequently.

32. Portsmouth ✅

A historic port city, Portsmouth is home to the Historic Dockyard, where you can see the HMS Victory and the Mary Rose Museum. The Spinnaker Tower offers panoramic views of the city and the sea.

33. Bournemouth ✅

  • Train: 2 hours

A vibrant coastal town, Bournemouth is known for its seven miles of sandy beaches, beautiful gardens, and a bustling town center. The Bournemouth Pier and Oceanarium are popular attractions.

34. Brussels, (Belgium) ✅

  • Eurostar: 2 hours 

As Belgium’s capital, Brussels is accessible via Eurostar for a day trip , but you won’t get to explore this huge city for very long. 

35. Bury St. Edmunds ✅

  • Drive: 2 Hours
  • Train: 2 Hours

Commonly just called “Bury,” this is a charming historic market and cathedral town in Suffolk.

Day Trips from London that Are Just Too Far ❌

While all these destinations are fascinating and offer unique experiences, the travel times and logistics involved make them challenging for day trips from London. If you do decide to visit, consider staying overnight to truly appreciate what each location has to offer.

Keep in mind that although flights to some of these places might be a short time in the air, getting to and from the airport in London will take at least 1 hour, not to mention time going through security and passport control & immigration.

1. Edinburgh ❌

edinburgh old town with spires in soft lighting. Text: "Edinburgh, 5 hour train ride from london not feasible for a day trip."

  • Drive: 7-8 hours
  • Train: 4.5-5 hours 

Scotland’s capital is too far for a comfortable day trip. It deserves an entire trip of its own!

2. Paris & Disneyland Paris ❌

  • Eurostar to Paris: 2.5 hours
  • Eurostar to Marne-la-Vallée (Disneyland): 3 hours  

Can you do Paris as a day trip from London? Technically yes. But even with the short(ish) Eurostar journey, it’s a stretch to do in one day and truly enjoy. Paris deserves so much time as it’s such an incredible and massive city. 

Disneyland Paris is equally difficult to do in one day, especially with kids – everyone would be absolutely exhausted.

3. Lake District ❌

  • Drive: 5-6 hours
  • Train: 2.5-3 hours to Windermere  

While beautiful, it’s a long journey from London!

4. Dublin ❌

  • Flight: 1.5 hours
  • Ferry: 3.5-8 hours (depending on route and ferry type) 

Requires a flight or a long ferry ride.

5. Cornwall (Penzance, St Ives, etc) ❌

image of kynance cove in Cornwall with text: "Cornwall: 4-5 hour train from london"

  • Drive: 4.5-8 hours (depending on destination within Cornwall)
  • Train: 3-5 hours 

The stunning coastline is too far for just one day. The trouble with Cornwall is you really need a car once you’re there, but driving from London takes forever with traffic and the narrow twisting lanes of the West coast.

6. Isle of Skye ❌

  • Drive: 12-13 hours
  • Train (to Mallaig, then ferry): 10-11 hours 

Located in Scotland, it’s too remote for a day trip.

7. Liverpool ❌

  • Drive: 4-5 hours
  • Train: 2-2.5 hours 

Home to The Beatles and rich maritime history, Liverpool is doable for a day trip but would be very rushed.

8. Loch Ness ❌

  • Drive: 9-10 hours
  • Train to Inverness: 8 hours, then drive or bus: 30 minutes 

Located in the Scottish Highlands, Loch Ness is famous for its legendary monster and beautiful scenery, but it’s too far for a day trip from London.

9. Amsterdam, Netherlands ❌

image of canal in amsterdam with text: "amsterdam: 4-5 hour train ride from london"

  • Flight: 1 hour
  • Eurostar: 4 hours 

The capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is famous for its canals, historic houses, museums like the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum, and vibrant nightlife.

While technically reachable in a day, Amsterdam really deserves a longer stay of at least 2 days minimum. Here’s all the ways to get there from London.

10. Provence, France ❌

  • Drive (including Eurotunnel or ferry): 10-12 hours
  • Flight to Marseille or Nice: 2 hours, then drive/train varies 

Known for its lavender fields and picturesque towns, Provence in the south of France is too far for a comfortable day trip.

11. Nice, France ❌

  • Drive (including Eurotunnel or ferry): 12-14 hours
  • Flight: 2 hours 

Located on the southeastern coast of France, Nice and its surrounding towns are famous for their Mediterranean beaches, but the journey would be too long for just a day trip.

12. Bordeaux, France ❌

  • Drive (including Eurotunnel or ferry): 8-10 hours
  • Train (Eurostar to Paris, then TGV): 6 hours

 Famous for its wine, Bordeaux in the southwest of France would be a stretch for a day trip.

13. Snowdonia National Park, Wales ❌

  • Train: 3-4 hours to Betws-y-Coed

In Wales, it’s a lengthy journey from London. This is an incredible area that deserves more than a day to explore fully! 

14. Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland ❌

  • Drive (including ferry): 10-12 hours
  • Flight to Belfast: 1.5 hours, then drive: 1 hour 

Located in Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway is a unique geological formation and UNESCO World Heritage site, but it’s too far away for a practical day trip from London.

15. Bruges, Belgium (Brugge) ❌

image of canal in bruges, belgium with text: "4 hour train ride from london"

  • Eurostar to Brussels, then train: 3.5-4 hours total 

A medieval gem with picturesque canals, Bruges is technically reachable for a day trip from London, but you won’t hardly any time to spend in one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe.

When booking travel to Bruges, don’t confuse your destination with Bruges, France. Try typing in “Brugge” instead of “Bruges, ” and you’ll be sure to find your correct Belgian destination.

16. Ghent, Belgium ❌

  • Eurostar to Brussels, then train: 3-3.5 hours 

Slightly closer than Bruges, Ghent’s blend of historic sites and vibrant culture can be sampled in a day.

17. Antwerp, Belgium ❌

  • Eurostar to Brussels, then train: 2.5-3 hours 

Known for its diamonds and port, Antwerp isn’t feasible for a day trip from London.

18. Scottish Highlands ❌

scottish highlands image of peaceful lake with text: "9 hour journey from london"

  • Drive: 8-12 hours (depending on destination)
  • Train: 8-9 hours to Inverness 

While parts of the Highlands might be reachable by a very long train journey or flight, the vast landscapes truly deserve more than a day.

I know this makes some of you Outlander fans sad, but you really can’t do a day trip from London to the Highlands.

19. Pembrokeshire Coast ❌

  • Train: 4.5-5 hours to Tenby 

Located in the southwest of Wales, this stunning coastal national park is too far for a day trip from London.

20. Isle of Man ❌

  • Ferry: 2.5-4 hours 

Situated in the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man has its own rich history and culture. Getting there would involve a flight or ferry, making it impractical for just a day.

21. Belfast, Northern Ireland ❌

  • Drive (including ferry): 8-10 hours 

The capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast is steeped in history and culture. From the Titanic Belfast museum, which commemorates the city’s shipbuilding heritage, to the political murals of the Falls and Shankill roads, Belfast offers a deep dive into the region’s past and present.

22. Guernsey ❌

Image of lighthouse on Guernsey with text: "7 hour journey from london"

  • Ferry: 3 hours (from Portsmouth. Portsmouth is a 2.5 hour train from London).

Located in the English Channel, Guernsey boasts beautiful beaches, historic forts, and a unique blend of British and French influences. The island’s compact size is perfect for exploring, but its distance from London makes it a challenging day trip.

23. Jersey ❌

  • Ferry: 4.5 hours (from Portsmouth. Portsmouth is a 2.5 hour train from London)

The largest of the Channel Islands, Jersey offers a mix of sandy beaches, cliffside walking trails, and historic castles. Its rich history spans from prehistoric times to its occupation during World War II.

Even though the Channel Islands look quite close on the map, it’s not feasible for a day trip from London.

24. Rotterdam, Netherlands ❌

  • Flight: 1 hour to Amsterdam, then train: 40 minutes
  • Eurostar to Amsterdam, then train: 4.5 hours in total 

A major port city in the Netherlands, Rotterdam is known for its modern architecture, maritime heritage, and cultural attractions like the Kunsthal and the Cube Houses. It’s a bit of a stretch for a day trip from London, especially if you want to explore the city in depth.

Taking a Day Trip from London: Final Tips

The most important tip I can give you is this: if you’re only in London for a short time, don’t do a day trip. London has so much to see and do that you’ll never get bored.

If you’re in London for more than 5 days, I would absolutely recommend a day trip. Just make it something that won’t exhaust you too much – two hours on a train, max.

If you live in London like me, you probably have a list as long as your arm of day trips to take. All you can do it tick them off, one by one!

More on Trips from London

Debating ‘Should I Rent a Car in London?’ Insider Tips

Visiting Greenwich with Kids: 5 Things That Adults Will Love, too! 

The Perfect Day out in Cambridge: 7 Things you Have to See 

Is Solo Travel Boring? 5 Reasons You Should Travel Alone ASAP

Trip from London to Amsterdam: 4 Ways to Get there for Every Budget

How to Get from London to Cornwall: 3 Easy Ways for Every Budget

Kynance Cove in Cornwall: 10 Must-Read Tips before Visiting 

Kennack Sands Beach: Is it the Best Beach for Kids in Cornwall? 

10 Things to Know about Visiting Stunning Poldhu Cove

Day Trips from London by Train FAQ

What is the best day trip out of london.

The best day trip for you depends on your goals and preferences.

Do you want to see a pretty village? Try St Albans, Canterbury, Bath, or Rye. Do you want to go to the seaside? Try Brighton, Dover, or Margate. Are you into history? Definitely check out Blenheim Palace, Bletchley Park, Stratford upon Avon, or Windsor Castle. Are you a student or an academic? Check out Oxford or Cambridge.

The list goes on, and all you can do is pick a place that sounds cool, get your train ticket, and go!

Can you do a day trip from London?

If you have enough time to spend in London and want to explore more of England, you can definitely do a day trip from London!

The best way is to pick a destination (start with this list!) and hop on the train. There’s so much to see in England, you don’t have to go far.

What is 1 hour away from London?

Harry Potter Studios, Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton, Windsor, Canterbury, Winchester, Hampton Court Palace, Hever Castle, St Albans, Rochester, and Hatfield House are all within a 1 hour train ride from London.

What countries are a day trip from London?

Wales is the closest country to London for a day trip. Try Cardiff, which is a charming Welsh city less than 2 hours from London by train.

Other countries like France are possible for a day trip, but you won’t get much time to spend there. Lille is a short 1.5 hour journey from London on the Eurostar, and it’s a much easier and smaller place to explore than Paris.

Belgium is also fast to get to, with only a 2 hour train ride to Brussels. Brussels is a bit easier to explore than Paris, but it’s also a large city.

What towns are 2 hours away from London?

York, Stonehenge, Stratford upon Avon, Cardiff, Dover, Birmingham, Worcester, Bournemouth, Bristol, Brussels, and many more towns are just a 2 hour (or less) train ride from London.

What is the closest beach to London?

Brighton is the closest proper sandy beach to London, and it takes less than 1 hour to get there by train. Margate is also a popular beach destination that takes only 2 hours on the train.

What is the shortest Eurostar journey from London?

The shortest journey on the Eurostar from London is to Lille, France at just 1 hour and 22 minutes.

What is the closest countryside to London?

There is incredible countryside bordering London, but the prettiest and closest natural woodlands are probably Epping Forest , which is just 1 hour from London on the Overground.

Which country is easy to travel from London?

France, Belgium, and Wales are the easiest countries to travel to from London by a short train ride.

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17 Best Day Trips From London — From Small Towns to Stunning Forests

Take a break from the big city.

day trips london nature

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There’s no denying London is one of the greatest cities in the world for art, culture, history, and theater. After a weeklong trip, though, you may want to escape its hustle and experience some of the U.K.'s best forests, country houses, seaside towns, and even other European neighbors. Thankfully, all of this and more lies within easy reach of the capital.

"London is often seen as the gateway to the rest of Europe and the United Kingdom, with six international airports and excellent rail connections to continue your onward journey," said Rose Wangen-Jones, the managing director of London & Partners, which runs the city's official tourism site . "You could even be at the Eiffel Tower taking snaps of the Paris skyline in just over two hours, thanks to the high-speed Eurostar train."

Complete with riverside walks, ancient towns, idyllic streets filled with indie shops, and amazing restaurants, here are our picks for the best day trips from London.

Whitstable, Kent

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Ask any Londoner and they’ll often tell you Whitstable, located about an hour east of London via high-speed train, is at the top of their city escape list. One of the U.K.'s most charming seaside towns , Whitstable is famed for its multicolored North Sea-facing beach huts and restaurants that plate up fresh lobsters. The town’s castle ruins are well worth exploring, too, and the hilly — and sometimes windy — coastal walks will help brush off those cerebral cobwebs.

Another major draw is the town’s oysters. Guzzling half a dozen of these must-try mollusks is almost a rite of passage in these parts, and one of the best times to try them is during the Whitstable Rocks Oyster Festival , which takes place every summer. Expect live music, markets selling local wares, and stellar wines.

Margate, Kent

Laurie Noble/Getty Images

Thanks to a cultural renaissance spearheaded by celebrities and artists such as Tracey Emin, Margate has experienced a rebirth. The Kent coastal town, less than a two-hour train ride from London, exudes cool grit and harbor glamour, with independent shops, contemporary restaurants, and the Walpole Bay Tidal Pool , made for a quick summer dip. Though Margate is on the gusty side, the Turner Contemporary gallery will keep you shielded from all the elements. For those seeking an adrenaline rush, the retro theme park and roller-disco Dreamland is well worth the admission price.

Cliveden House, Berkshire

Andrew Holt/Getty Images

Over its long, illustrious history, Cliveden has been a retreat for royals (Meghan, Duchess of Sussex stayed here on the eve of her wedding), and it played host to the scandalous Profumo affair back in the 1960s. The former home of the Astor family, the house was originally built in 1666 by the Duke of Buckingham as a country pad to rival all others. Now, anyone can visit to admire its over-the-top English style (think winding oak staircases and hallways filled with paintings, chandeliers, and armor). Aside from it being a great spot for afternoon tea, Cliveden really is all about stunning riverside walks, park picnics, and if you’ve got the time, a riverboat tour down the Thames. The best part? It's just an hour's drive west of London.

Rye, Sussex

Aubrey Stoll/Getty Images

Instagrammers from across the globe descend upon Rye to snap photos of its cutesy, cobbled lanes and mishmash of Diagon Alley-esque antique shops and bookstores. Just under two hours from London, the small and hilly town is the perfect place to grab a local Sussex ale or English sparkling wine. Plus, there are plenty of restaurants serving top-notch seafood lunches and scrumptious lobster pots. Another bonus? It's close to one of the U.K.’s best beaches , picturesque Camber Sands. Tip: bring a fancy picnic basket.

Box Hill, Surrey 

Nickos/Getty Images

Green and pleasant pastures await in this dreamy part of the Surrey countryside. Less than an hour outside of London, Box Hill is a solid quick option for a day trip with fresh air. Most people cycle here from Richmond Park, but if you're short on time, you can take the train. It takes roughly four hours to complete the entire eight-mile circular Box Hill Hike , and those who reach the summit will be treated to sprawling views of the North Downs. Another option is walking from the train station via the Stepping Stones Path , which takes about two hours out and back. The National Trust cafe is a great spot for a well-deserved slice of cake, but if you fancy heading further out, the nearby Beaverbrook hotel has several dining venues on its 470-acre estate, including The Garden House Restaurant , which offers steaks of both the beef and cauliflower variety, salads, seafood, and pasta.

TJ Blackwell/Getty Images

Despite being more than 200 miles from the capital, York is actually one of the easiest day trips from London. Trains take just under two hours and run frequently enough that you can decide if you want to go the same day. The ancient walled city is best known for its Gothic masterpiece York Minster , one of the U.K.’s oldest cathedrals, dating back to the seventh century.

"York Minster is one of the most magnificent cathedrals in the world, as well as one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe," says Nicola Butler, a T+L A-List advisor and owner of NoteWorthy . "The first recorded church on the site was built in 627, and it has had a colorful and varied history ever since. We then suggest our clients admire the timber-framed buildings of the Shambles, which was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086."

In addition to seeing this stunner, visitors can walk along the city walls before climbing up Clifford’s Tower for some awesome views of the city and beyond. Learn about 3,000 years of chocolate history at York's Chocolate Story museum, then hit up the Shambles for winding, Harry Potter -style streets packed with cool storefronts and tea shops.  

Lewes, Sussex

Patrick Donovan/Getty Images

Lewes often gets overlooked for its neighbor Brighton but this quaint town, located about an hour south of London, has lots to offer. Lewes Castle , the remains of Lewes Priory , and the former home of Anne of Cleves will keep you busy for a few hours, as will the pubs and local handicraft shops. If you have more time to spare, take a cab to the nearby village of Rodmell. Here, you’ll find Monk’s House , the former 16th-century country retreat of groundbreaking 20th-century author Virginia Woolf and her husband, Leonard. The garden is pretty, and you’ll also get to go inside Woolf’s writing lodge where she sat and wrote her most famous novels and essays. And if you’ve got the stamina, the walk to the village of Glynde and its Elizabethan manor is well worth the steep hills. Your reward? Spectacular views over the South Downs.

KavalenkavaVolha/Getty Images

The beauty of Europe is its excellent and efficient train network. The Eurostar , for example, takes approximately 2.5 hours to reach the French capital from London’s St. Pancras International station. With little planning, you can easily tackle many of the top attractions in Paris if you book yourself on the earliest service out and the latest back. To make the most of your day here, focus on the heart of the city: the Louvre , Musée d'Orsay , plus the amazing stores, coffee shops, and restaurants of Saint-Germain-des-Prés are all within walking distance of each other. Round out the day at the Trocadéro to snap a selfie with the Eiffel Tower and relax on the banks of the Seine with a picnic, Emily in Paris- style.

Bath, Somerset

One of the best day trips from London for history lovers, Somerset’s largest city beckons visitors with its ancient Roman baths and Georgian architecture. After the Roman period, its healing hot springs experienced a surge in popularity, transforming Bath into a fashionable spa retreat in the 17th and 18th centuries. Recognized as one of UNESCO's "Great Spa Towns of Europe," the city can easily be reached via an hour-and-change train ride from London. When you arrive, explore the bathing complex, constructed around 70 C.E., and have afternoon tea at The Pump Room restaurant. Then, stop by Bath Abbey , where you can tour the top of the church tower. While you can’t swim in the historic baths, the next best option is Thermae Bath Spa 's rooftop thermal pool — a perfect place to cap off your visit before taking the train back to London.

Ashdown Forest, Sussex

Winnie-the-Pooh fans will likely want to add Ashdown Forest to their list of scenic day trips from the capital. A.A. Milne lived near the 6,500-acre woodland when he penned the stories of Christopher Robin and his friends. Better known as the fictional “Hundred Acre Wood,” the forest is accessible via a one-hour train ride to East Grinstead station, followed by a short taxi or bus ride. For an even easier journey, join a customized tour with Pooh Trek , which will pick you up at the station and visit highlights like the historic Pooh Sticks Bridge, plus cozy cottages and pubs. Those looking to extend their stay can even spend a few nights at Milne’s former house, the 16th-century Cotchford Farm .

Brighton, Sussex

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The unofficial gay capital of the U.K. is the place to go if you're in search of wall-to-wall live music venues, classic seaside bed-and-breakfasts, buzzing clubs, and Soho House's members-only Brighton Beach House . About an hour's train ride from London, Brighton's famed Palace Pier , pebbly beach, and shops on The Lanes are all worth a visit. Visitors can expect narrow alleyways packed with independent boutiques, record stores, pizza shacks, vegan eats, and small pubs championing local ales sourced from all over the city’s home county, Sussex.

Hastings, Sussex

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About a 1.5-hour train ride from London, Hastings has a long, colorful, and somewhat brutal history that’s kept tourists flocking to its windy cliffs for centuries. The former battleground of William the Conqueror offers all sorts of to-dos, from the ruins of its Norman castle (no dragons, sadly) to a strip of indie shops to great local restaurants. There's also a long pier stretching out into the English Channel that has "sunset walk" written all over it. The best views can be enjoyed from East Hill, accessible via the U.K.'s steepest funicular, the East Hill Cliff Railway. After riding down, head to George Street, a haven for continental-style cafes, art shops, and bookstores.

Stratford-upon-Avon, West Midlands

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Literature buffs will love this medieval town hidden away in England's West Midlands. Shakespeare’s former homes and his wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage are the major draws. A little more than two hours north of London, the town is also a great place to indulge in a boat tour along the plant-flecked canal basin. If you’re a theater lover, catch a play at the Royal Shakespeare Company 's playhouse (book well in advance), or enjoy a dinner cruise down the picturesque River Avon on the Countess of Evesham restaurant boat.

Canterbury, Kent

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If you dig a medieval cathedral with a dash of Chaucer, head to Canterbury. Roughly a 45-minute train ride from London, the town is a great option for travelers who are pressed for time. Start off with a walk (or bike ride) down the wiggly King’s Lane to check out the city’s stellar indie shops. When it comes to fueling up, there's lots on offer, from pastries at The Goods Shed farmers market and food hall to Scotch eggs at pubs in town. Walk it off in one of England’s oldest parks, Westgate Gardens, before hitting up the nearby Blean Woods Nature Reserve , an ancient woodland filled with rare flora and fauna. The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge is also worth visiting for a glimpse at one of the world's most important collections of cow paintings.

Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

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An easy, one-hour train journey from St. Pancras, this university city dating back to 1209 is home to some of the world's most photogenic colleges and dorms. Begin your journey at King’s College and stroll through its 15th-century landmark Gothic chapel, home to the world’s largest fan vault and some impressive stained-glass windows.

Next, explore the waterways in a punt, a long, flat-bottomed boat. Aside from hopping on a bike, it’s the simplest (and most fun) way to explore the city on the cheap. Plus, you’ll see all the top attractions, from Trinity College to the Bridge of Sighs , along the way.

"NoteWorthy clients often visit the Wren Library in Trinity College Cambridge, designed by the renowned architect Sir Christopher Wren," says Butler. "It is one of Cambridge’s most famous and historic college libraries. This experience will take you behind the scenes to see some extraordinary and valuable literary works guided by a subject expert. Two of Shakespeare’s first folios and various letters of Sir Isaac Newton are just examples of what you could see on the tour."

When you get hungry, head to the Pint Shop for gourmet pub-style food served in a joint once loved by E.M. Forster. The Sunday roast is great, as are all the beers sourced from hops all over the country.

Oxford, Oxfordshire

Famed for its academic history, ivy-clad buildings, and Harry Potter filming locations , Oxford is another university city well worth a day trip from London. The train journey from Paddington or Marylebone station takes just over an hour and once you arrive, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a real-life version of the Wizarding World. Start your visit with a walking tour ( Bodleian Libraries offers guided explorations of the city and its beautiful libraries). Then, climb the tower of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin for one of the best views of the rooftops. In addition to the towering Gothic architecture, the city's historic streets are lined with traditional pubs and charming cafes. After refueling, end your day with a punting adventure along the River Cherwell or visit the Ashmolean Museum , which houses an impressive array of art and artifacts.

Bruton, Somerset

Tim Green/Getty Images

Somerset is a long day trip from London, but it’s doable and worth the effort if you’re willing to wake up early. One of the most convenient ways to get a taste of it is via the Great Garden Escape , courtesy of one of England's most celebrated hotels, The Newt in Somerset . The approximately two-hour journey sets off from London’s Paddington station, with breakfast served on board before the train rolls into the hills of the West Country. Next to the hotel’s Georgian façade, explore picturesque gardens and ancient woodlands, plus learn the art of cider making before digging into an afternoon tea overlooking the orchards. It’s basically England summed up in about eight hours.

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The Malvern hills, UK

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty near London to discover nature

Sure, London’s a stunner, but check out these rolling meadows, ancient forests and serene stretches of coastline, all within easy reach of the city

Ellie Walker-Arnott

London might be filled with a tonne of  pretty parks ,   flower-filled gardens   and   walks , but sometimes you just can't beat getting out the city for some much needed fresh air. Luckily, there are some stunning places to enjoy nature near London to choose from. So many, in fact, that it can be tricky to decide where to go.  That’s where Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (or, as they're currently being rebranded, National Landscapes) come in. These verdant areas are given special conservation laws to limit development and preserve their natural beauty. In other words they’re quiet, pretty, and perfect places to take a hike.

There are 46 AONBs across Britain, and a handful of these are within just a few hours journey of the capital. Take a look through our list of places to enjoy nature near London and start planning your great escape.  Put that gorpcore to good use!

RECOMMENDED: The best day trips from London

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Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty near London

Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight

What is it? A pretty island of chalk cliffs, meadows and sandy bays.

Why go?  Sun seekers take note: the Isle of Wight is consistently among the sunniest places in the UK – the seaside resort of Ventnor even has its own microclimate. Aside from blue skies, the island has loads to do, including llama walks , cool gin bars and a steam railway which cruises through the countryside. 

Don’t miss: Get better acquainted with the stunning white cliffs on the Chalk Ridge Extreme cycle route. Not for the faint hearted, put your leg muscles to the test climbing some of the island's steepest hills. 

Stay here: Tiny Homes owners Helen and Frazer Cunningham are the proud creators of these adorable wooden houses, complete with wood-burning stoves and composting toilets. What’s more, the retreats are solar-powered and sleep up to four people. Cosy. 

Get there: One hour 30 minutes by train from Waterloo Station, plus ten minutes by bus and 25 minutes by boat.

High Weald

What is it? A charming medieval landscape with a lively events calendar.

Why go? Whether you want to wander the pretty woodland walks, scale the sandstone crags of Harrison’s Rocks, or pedal along the 22km of cycle tracks in Bedgebury Forest, High Weald packs a lot into its patch of south east England. Despite enjoying a relaxed pace of life, the area also has a bumper line up of events throughout the year, from a popular walking festival to vineyard tours . 

Don’t miss: A trip along the Spa Valley Railway . Steam train experiences include murder mysteries and afternoon tea, all while being  hauled through the picturesque countryside by a steam or diesel engine. 

Stay here: Cabins don’t get much cuter than those nestled in the 40 acres of gardens belonging to Swallowtail Hill . Choose from the fairytale Meadow Keeper’s Cottage, complete with log burner and stable door, or the luxe Roundhouse with a wood-fired hot tub. 

Get there: Around 45 minutes from London Bridge to Tunbridge Wells, which has bus services out into the High Weald countryside. 

Surrey Hills

Surrey Hills

What is it? A pretty patch of verdant countryside that’s surprisingly easy to reach from London. 

Why go? Even the reluctant day-tripper can get on board with the Surrey Hills, a convenient green getaway that visitors can reach in under an hour. The area goes big on walking and trail running – both of which make the most of outstanding scenery. There’s a huge choice of destinations on offer, but for starters, go for Box Hill and follow the three-mile butterfly walk.

Don’t miss: The Georgian market town of Dorking is the perfect base to explore the surrounding hills. There’s Michelin-starred Sorrel restaurant, incredible antiques stores, and bags of independent character. 

Stay here:  Book the Garden Cottage, surrounded by formal grounds on the estate of grand Edwardian retreat Polesden Lacey . As an added bonus, the National Trust-run cottage allows guests free use of the on-site croquet courts and gardens out of hours, and entry to the main house for free. That’s if you can drag yourself away from the roll top bath. 

Get there: Around 50 minutes by train from Waterloo to Dorking Station.

Kent Downs

What is it? Gentle rolling hills dotted with orchids, orchards and long winding rivers. 

Why go? The iconic white cliffs of Dover might be the most famous part of the Kent Downs, but the area has so much more to offer. Bike routes – such as the Great Stour Way and the Perry Woods Cycle Trail near Canterbury – offer paved, car-free paths through the countryside, while well-trodden rambling paths allow walkers to immerse themselves in nature. For the best views, trek up Lympne Hill and look out over a patchwork of fields and Romney Marsh. 

Don’t miss: One of the Kent Downs’ most stunning natural habitats is surprisingly (and conveniently) close to the M2. Nature-lovers should make a bee-line for the Medway Gap, just south of Rochester, famed for its orchids, wild poppies, dormice, birds, and butterflies.

Stay here: Perfectly placed for exploring the surrounding hills, Eastwell Manor is a grand old house and gardens under two hours drive from central London. The building is regal, but the vibes are much more chilled, with a modern fit-out and a selection of cosy rooms to choose from. We love the shepherd’s huts, based in the hotel grounds and overlooking the north Downs. 

Get there: One hour 20 minutes from London Bridge to Wye. 

The Chilterns

The Chilterns

What is it? An uncrowded and peaceful area of natural beauty, which inspired the likes of Roald Dahl, Oscar Wilde, and Agatha Christie. 

Why go? Reclaim your personal space in The Chilterns, a quieter alternative to more well-known UK holiday destinations. Kids will love the Roald Dahl museum (Dahl lived here for almost 40 years), and grown-ups will love the relaxed rustic pubs and Michelin-starred restaurants. The area is so well bestowed with countryside walks, that it’s got its own festival dedicated to hillside strolling. Plan your trip to coincide with it in Spring and rub shoulders with fellow ramblers. 

Don’t miss: Food fans should add Marlow to their bucket list. Tom Kerridge has no less than three restaurants here, settle in for pub grub in at The Coach or head to The Butcher’s Tap for food on the go. 

Stay here: Nestled on the edge of the historic Stonor Park estate,  a short drive from picturesque Turville, White Pond Farm  has choice of cosy accommodation. Treat yourself with a cute barn-conversion, or go all out with a wing of the main house. 

Get there: Around 40 minutes by train from Marylebone to Amersham. 

Dedham Vale

Dedham Vale

What is it? A pretty pastoral landscape, captured by some of the UK’s best loved artists. 

Why go? Even if you haven’t been to Dedham Vale, you may well recognise it. The scenery inspired a troupe of nature-loving artists, its cute villages and agrarian scenes immortalised by the likes of Constable and Gainsborough. Imitate art and book a trip to enjoy boat trips on the River Stour, walk along the Stour Valley Path , or meander through any one of the chocolate-box villages. 

Don’t miss: The tiny hamlet of Flatford was a huge inspiration for Constable, and much of it is now owned by the National Trust. Walk in his footsteps and admire the cottage on Flatford bridge, the old mill and the granary. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own masterpiece. 

Stay here: Live out your pastoral dreams at Thornington Lodge – a seventeenth-century building with bucket-loads of character, beaches within easy reach and long walks straight from the door. 

Get there: Around two hours by car, or 1 hour by train to Colchester and 20 minutes by taxi from there.  

North Wessex Downs

North Wessex Downs

What is it? Picture-perfect villages, winding canals and Neolithic marvels in the third largest AONB in the UK. 

Why go? If giant horses float your boat, gallop over to the North Wessex downs. There, you’ll find the famous White Horse – a huge chalk equine figure carved into the hillside. When you’re done horsing around, there’s a colossal 670 sq miles of lush countryside to explore, which takes in parts of Hampshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. 

Don’t miss: A walk along The Ridgeway – a prehistoric route which starts at Overton Hill and passes right through to the Chilterns. 

Stay here: From locally made ale to hand-made scotch eggs, the Red Lion Freehouse is a traditional boozer that strives to do things the right way. It’s been given a Michelin star for its troubles, and boasts comfortable dog-friendly rooms – some with roll top baths.

Get there: Around two hours by car. 

The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds

What is it? Lush green meadows and chocolate box villages in a stunning corner of rural England.

Why go? The Cotswolds take up  almost 800 square miles. Expect village fetes and kitsch dog shows galore in pretty honey-coloured villages. We’re big fans of Bibury , and the self-described ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, Bourton-on-the-water. It’s heaven for ramblers, who can walk all or part of the Cotswold Way National Trail - 102 miles of outstanding scenery, passing through historic sights, castles and churches.

Don’t miss: Just because it’s steeped in history doesn’t mean it’s stuck in time; there’s plenty of forward-thinking attractions in the Cotswolds, such The Wild Rabbit – a modern pub with a seasonal kitchen which sources directly from nearby organic farms. 

Stay here: Close your eyes and think of an idyllic rural pub. It probably looks something like The Swan Hotel , an old coaching inn covered in Ivy and set by the river. The idyllic spot also has cosy rooms – a great base to explore the local area. 

Get there: Around two hours 30 minutes by car. 

Cranborne Chase and the West Wiltshire Downs

Cranborne Chase and the West Wiltshire Downs

What is it? Charming countryside, winding country roads and cute villages. 

Why go? This AONB gets its name from the hunts that used to take place here – but nowadays it’s a much more relaxed affair. Stressed city folk can get in touch with nature (or at least the local village pubs) in Cranborne Chase, with its remote downland, ancient forests and winding streams. Highlights include the world-famous landscape gardens at the National Trust’s Stourhead , walks along the Nadder Valle y , and road-tripping between the many charming villages. 

Don’t miss: End of the Road Festival is chilled and friendly with a well curated line-up, and usually takes place at Larmer Tree Gardens at the end of August. 

Stay here: Soak up the rural vibes without giving up home comforts with a stay in this boutique shepherd’s hut  b ased on the grounds of Marshwood Farm. They even deliver a breakfast hamper to the door of your hut, if the short stroll to the farmhouse is a little too strenuous.  

Get there: Around two hours 45 minutes by car.

Suffolk Coast and Heaths

Suffolk Coast and Heaths

What is it? A pebbly stretch of heaths and estuaries for salty seaside walks through the bracken.

Why go? While it’s impossible to ignore Sizewell B – Britain’s youngest working nuclear power plant – this rather bulky building by no means dominates the Suffolk Coast. Elsewhere along the shingle coastline there’s pristine nature reserves, windy walks and pretty fishing towns. 

Don’t miss: Brace yourself and take to the north sea, which - despite being chilly - is a hot spot for kitesurfing, sailing and jet skis. Lowestoft, Kessingland, and Felixstowe are among the best beaches to get some water sporting action. 

Stay here: The luxury lodge tents at Secret Meadows are somewhere between luxury tent and country cottage, boasting everything you could need for a boujie weekend escape, including a hot tub and wood burning range. 

Get there:  Around two hours 20 minutes by car.

Norfolk coast

Norfolk coast

What is it? A huge expanse of serene coastline for you to stretch out and do your thing. 

Why go? The Norfolk coast is the perfect antidote to the overpacked streets of London. Broad sandy beaches and sweeping dunes provide an atmospheric backdrop – and film-makers seem to agree, with many spots along the Norfolk coast featuring in major films and TV productions. 

Don’t miss: Blakeney Point – it’s a salt marsh that’s home to a cute colony of grey seals. It’s best seen by boat, and it’s well worth a trip in winter: if you’re there between November and early January, you might spot pups. 

Stay here: Wells-next-the-Sea is a sprawling sandy bay dotted with classic beach huts. Not that you’ll be spending much time paddling after you check into your deluxe room at The Crown Hotel , with its freestanding, outdoor copper bathtub.

Get there: Around three hours by car.

Dorset

What is it? A geologist’s dream filled with breathtaking views and dramatic cliffs.

Why go? The Jurassic Coast, West Country accents and Thomas Hardy: just three reasons why Dorset should be your next UK getaway. Fact-fans will be happy to hear that Dorset’s AONB takes up 44 percent of the county, and provides restorative, laid back charm. This protected area features the fossil-studded, historic Jurassic Coast and stunning limestone rock formations like as Durdle Door, which display around 185 million years of Earth’s history.

Don’t miss:  Just along the coast from Durdle Door,  Lulworth Cove is a sheltered white pebble beach that is almost perfectly circular, offering a haven of serenity as you watch the boats bobbing in the clear blue water.  

Stay here: Travel light and pitch up at a wooden camping pod at the Durdle Door Holiday Park . Just 200m from the beach, pods feature picnic tables, heating and electricity – but you will need to pack a sleeping bag. 

Get there: Around three hours by car. 

Malvern Hills

Malvern Hills

What is it? Rolling hills with breathtaking views over Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Why go? Fans of walking will love a good ramble over the Malvern Hills, famed for its stunning hillside treks – just remember to pack some locally bottled Holywell Malvern spring water for the journey. Start with the Worcestershire Beacon, a short hike from the town centre of Great Malvern to the highest point in the Malvern Hills and the county. 

Don’t miss: The water in Malvern has attracted all sorts of eminent guests, from  Queen Elizabeth I to Florence Nightingale. It’s supposed to have curative properties, but see for yourself at one of the many spas that have sprung up around the district, using the local spring water in pools and treatments.

Stay here: There’s a few hotel options in Great Malvern but they can be a little fusty – we’re fans of this modern apartment in the town centre. Available on Airbnb , it features a roll top bath, two bedrooms, a tranquil garden – and of course, the Malvern Hill walks at your doorstep. 

More amazing things to see?

9 stunning World Heritage Sites in and near London

9 stunning World Heritage Sites in and near London

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From exemplary Norman architecture to sacred sites over 5,000 years old, here are nine World Heritage Sites you can visit within three hours of London

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day trips london nature

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations

affiliate disclosure policy

Looking for the best day trips from London?

Listen up, fellow Londoners! If concrete jungles and crowded streets are starting to feel a bit same-old, I’ve got just the remedy – epic day trips!

As a seasoned explorer with a serious case of wanderlust, I’ve uncovered the 21 most brilliant day escapes from the Big Smoke for 2024. We’re talking fairytale castles, breathtaking coastlines, and charming country pubs.

Those rolling green hills and sparkling seasides aren’t going to explore themselves. And why waste your weekends holed up in the city when you could be making magical memories just a quick train ride away?

Planning your trip? Use my favorite resources!

🏨 Accommodation: I recommend Booking.com ✈️ Flights: for the cheapest flights, I use Skyscanner 🚗 Rental Car: I recommend Discover Cars 🛡️ Travel Insurance: for the best deals I rely on SafetyWing

From foodie havens in Kent to windswept trails in the Cotswolds, you’re spoiled for choice. But never fear – I’ve narrowed down the very best of the best so you can stop scrolling and start adventuring.

As a Londoner born and raised, I’ve explored every inch of the city, so I’m happy to share my firsthand knowledge of the very best day trips.

Ready to shake up your usual routine? Then let’s do this! That English countryside is calling your name.

Top Day Trips From London by Train [2024 Edition]

A complete guide to all the best and most unusual day trips from London by car, train, bus or coach. Includes free day trips from London, and more.

Best London Day Trips By Train

With so many incredible options to choose from, you’re sure to find a day trip that suits your taste and budget. So get your train ticket ready, and let’s embark on an unforgettable adventure!

Bath, my friends, is the quintessential English retreat. With its postcard-perfect Georgian buildings, ancient Roman ruins, and utterly charming countryside surroundings, this city straight up dazzles.

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 1

🎈 Click here to book your Roman Baths and Georgian Baths tour today!

Now, let’s talk logistics. Bath is just a quick train ride from London – we’re talking 1.5-2 hours from London Paddington Station. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also rent a car and take in the scenic countryside views as you drive to Bath – just be prepared for some narrow roads and tight parking!

While Bath isn’t the cheapest destination, there are plenty of budget-friendly options for food, accommodation, and activities, so don’t let that deter you from visiting this amazing city.

As for things to do in Bath , there is no shortage of attractions and activities to keep you busy. The Roman Baths are an obvious must-see. But don’t miss out on Bath Abbey, the Royal Crescent, or a long stroll through gorgeous Georgian streets. And spoil yourself with a spa session at Thermae Bath Spa. You deserve it!

🏨 Wanna spend the night there? Eight . True to its name, it only has eight cozy rooms, and the restaurant on the first floor always features eight delectable dishes on its menu. Come check it out and experience the intimate atmosphere for yourself!

Oxford, my friend, is a true time capsule. With its spellbinding Gothic architecture, cobblestone lanes, and cozy local pubs, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a Jane Austen novel.

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 2

But beyond the old-timey aesthetics, this charming university town boasts one of the most prestigious universities on Earth. Okay, so not all of us are academics or students. But we can still soak up the living history and brilliance that permeates Oxford’s storied halls and libraries.

Getting to Oxford is a breeze – just an hour train ride from London Paddington. Once there, navigating is easy by foot, bike, or public transport.

Now, what to actually do in Oxford, you ask? For starters, wander the ancient halls and libraries of the famed University of Oxford . Explore the where scholars and luminaries have walked for over 900 years. 

Let your inner scholar geek out. And don’t skip the Ashmolean Museum – a treasure trove of art and artifacts spanning millennia. From Ancient Greek sculptures to Warhol pop art, you’ll encounter humanity’s creativity laid bare.

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 3

Beyond the textbooks and museums, take a punt on the river, grab a pint at a local pub, or lose yourself down charming side streets. Oxford offers delights around every corner.

So come ready to time travel through this city’s storied past. But also embrace the vibrant present-day energy pulsing through its lanes. Oxford awaits you, my friend.

🏨 Where to stay in Oxford: The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels, is located opposite the Ashmolean Museum. With sumptuous rooms and a wellness center, it offers a perfect blend of luxury and convenience.

🏛️ Oxford tours and excursions

Use the widget below to book the most popular tours in Oxford:

3. Brighton

Looking for a quick seaside escape from the London bustle? Well, look no further than Brighton, baby! This vibrant beach town packs a colorful punch, with its cheerful beach huts, funky shops, and classic seaside pier.

Just a hop, skip, and a jump from the big city, Brighton serves up a swell mix of seaside chillin’ and cultural stimulatin’. Wander through the exotic Royal Pavilion, an architectural marvel fit for a king. Lace up your walking shoes and hit the legendary Brighton Pier to soak up those ocean views and sea breezes.

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 4

And don’t sleep on the North Laine neighborhood! This eclectic hub boasts rad street art, indie boutiques, and quirky cafes galore. Be sure to pop into Open House art gallery, and fuel up at Marwood Cafe – total local faves.

Rolling into Brighton is simple – just a quick train ride from London Victoria Station, about an hour door-to-door. You can also bus or drive it, but be prepared for narrow streets and limited parking.

Brighton brings just the right dose of beachy vibes and cool culture. And the best part? You can experience it all in just one day. During my university years, I took the train to Brighton almost every weekend to enjoy the seaside and explore the shops and cafes.

🏨 Looking to stay over? For those seeking a perfect blend of food and luxury, The Ginger Pig is the ideal destination. Located in Brighton, this restaurant with rooms offers pre-mixed cocktails in minibars and Cowshed bottles by standalone bathtubs, ensuring you’ll have a truly indulgent experience.

👉 For more exciting activities in London, consider visiting one of these 12 top mazes near London .

This corner of England is chock full of fascinating sights spanning back to prehistoric times.

Let’s start with the crown jewel – Canterbury Cathedral . This awe-inspiring medieval structure has been attracting pilgrims for centuries with its intricate architecture and air of mystery. Don’t miss the site of Thomas Becket’s infamous murder – juicy historical drama!

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 5

Afterward, peruse the shelves at the charming Catching Lives Charity Bookshop, then relax over a pint in one of Canterbury’s hidden pub gardens like The Dolphin or The Parrot. Bliss!

Looking for more laidback adventures? Meander along the ancient city walls, picnic along the colorful River Stour, or pop into The Goods Shed for tasty local treats. Feeling spicy? Book a historic river tour to see Canterbury’s romantic cobblestone streets from a new vantage point.

🏨 Thinking of staying over in Kent? The Falstaff Hotel is the perfect pick. With parts of the hotel dating all the way back to the 13th century, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you admire the original features like cozy fireplaces and sturdy oak beams. And the location can’t be beat – all of the city’s main attractions are just a short stroll away.

5. New Forest

If you’re looking for options on natural day trips from London and an escape from the hustle and bustle of the big smoke, the New Forest is the perfect place to clear your head and enjoy some stunning natural beauty.

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 6

With ancient woodland, heathland, and quaint English villages, it’s the ideal spot for a long, leisurely ramble, followed by a hearty pub lunch and a pint of local ale by a roaring fire.

During autumn, the New Forest is especially stunning, with its rich hues cutting through the morning mists and dazzling in the afternoon sun. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some free-roaming New Forest ponies, cattle, and even pigs along the way.

To get to the New Forest from London, take the train from Waterloo to Beaulieu Road station, and make a pit stop at the Drift Inn for a pint of real ale before embarking on your hike. And if you’re looking for some independent shops, cafes, and beaches, head to Lymington for a rugged and remote one-and-a-half-hour loop.

🏨 Where to stay in the New Forest: The Thatched Cottage in Brockenhurst or The Stag Hotel near Lyndhurst are excellent options. But if you’re after a trusted favorite among New Forest devotees, Chewton Glen is a must-visit. With its 18th-century manor house, treehouse bedrooms, and Grecian-style pool, it’s the perfect place to unwind and indulge in some good old-fashioned service and comforts.

Best Day Trips From London By Car

Feeling overwhelmed by the London grind? Give yourself a breath of fresh sea air with a day trip by car to Portsmouth, a coastal city rich in naval heritage, Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare, or Windsor, home to the iconic Windsor Castle and beautiful surrounding countryside.

Each of these destinations can be reached within two hours, making for the perfect getaway from the city, and all make for perfect family-friendly day trips from London.

6. Portsmouth

This lively waterfront city is just a 2 hour drive south, making it the ultimate easy breezy day escape.

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 7

In Portsmouth, maritime history and nautical vibes abound. Take a scenic stroll along the harbor, soaking up views of boats bobbing about before diving into the city’s storied naval past. History nerds, listen up – the historic dockyards offer an awesome glimpse into the Royal Navy’s adventures, including ships like Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory and Henry VIII’s fave Mary Rose.

Once you’ve gotten your history fix, head to Gunwharf Quays to refuel on food and retail therapy. With trendy restaurants, lively pubs, and designer shops, this area is primed for sipping, sampling, and strolling along the waterfront.

🚶🏽‍♂️ You can book a guided walking tour of the city here .

🏨 Spending a night in Portsmouth? Portsmouth Village Hotel is a charming and inviting accommodation option located in the city. This boutique hotel offers a cozy and intimate atmosphere with a personal touch.

➤ Related post: Southampton to London (How to Get There & Where to Stay)

7. The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds, an area of outstanding natural beauty, is the perfect day trip destination just a short drive from London.

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 8

With rolling hills, charming honey-colored stone villages, and traditional English cream teas, this quintessentially English experience is just waiting to be explored, the whole region offering quite possibly the most picturesque countryside day trips from London imaginable.

The Cotswolds is roughly 90 miles (145 km) from London, and the scenic drive takes around 2 hours. Once you arrive, take your time strolling through the idyllic towns and browsing the quaint independent shops and galleries.

And with plenty of delicious local food to try, including regional specialties like Cotswold lamb and Gloucester cheese, your taste buds are sure to be delighted. Don’t forget to take in the stunning countryside views and snap some instagrammable photos along the way.

A close friend of mine has lived in a tiny village there for years and says the Cotswolds are her favorite place to unwind.

🏨 Staying over in the Cotswolds: The Fuzzy Duck in Newbold on Stour, Cotswolds is a delightful gem of a hotel nestled in the picturesque Cotswold countryside offering guests a truly memorable stay.

🌲 Cotswolds day trips & excursions

Book a private tour of the Cotswolds using the widget below:

8. Stonehenge

A day trip by car from London to Stonehenge is definitely possible. Zip down to the legendary Stonehenge in just 1 hour 45 minutes by car. Trust me, this epic trek is well worth it to marvel at the 5,000 year old stone circle, one of the world’s most iconic ancient sites.

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 9

Once you arrive, take a leisurely stroll around the mystical monoliths and soak up thousands of years of history. Chat up the knowledgeable guides to get the scoop on these mysterious rocks and their significance. Refuel at the onsite cafe with a hearty lunch before heading back.

Insider tip: check out my guide on visiting Stonehenge for free ! Yes, you can experience the magic without paying a penny. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

Whether you’re a history buff, mythology nerd, or just love an Insta-worthy backdrop, Stonehenge never disappoints. And the best part? It makes for the ultimate easy historical day trip from London by car. Cruise in, explore the neonithic wonder, and be back in time for dinner. Now that’s what I call a win-win!

🏨 Where to stay near Stonehenge: The Old Mill Hotel in Salisbury is a hidden gem that seamlessly blends history, comfort, and scenic beauty. Nesteld on the banks of the River Avon, this charming hotel occupies a historic building that was once a mill, offering a unique and characterful experience for guests.

🪨 Stonehenge day trips & excursions

Check out the popular Stonehenge tours and excursions in the widget below:

9. Stratford-Upon-Avon

Calling all Shakespeare fans and culture vultures – let’s take a day trip from London to the Bard’s beloved hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon! One of the best cultural day trips from London, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this charming town that’s just a 2-hour drive away and choc-full of Tudor realness. We’re talking narrow cobbled streets, timered buildings, and poetic river views. Swoon!

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 10

Obviously we need to make a beeline for Shakespeare’s birthplace and get all the juicy deets about his early years. Then, let’s take a leisurely stroll along the River Avon and picture Will as a moody teenager scribbling sonnets along the banks.

But wait, there’s more! We simply must catch a show at the renowned Royal Shakespeare Company theatre. I mean, is it even a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon without seeing some live Shakespearean drama?

And finally, we’ll wrap up our day of all things Will with pints and pub grub at a cozy inn. After all, we need to refuel after soaking up all this amazing culture!

🎈 Book your private Shakespeare walking tour of Stratford today !

🏨 Wanna stay in Stratford? Situated in the heart of this historic town, Hotel du Vin is a captivating boutique hotel that exudes elegance and sophistication, offering a luxurious retreat for travelers seeking refined accommodations.

10. Hastings and St. Leonards-on-Sea

Feel like breaking free from the London bubble for a day? Well, look no further than the delightful coastal towns of Hastings and St Leonards-on-Sea. Just a quick jaunt southeast, these seaside charmers offer the perfect blend of history, scenery, and good old-fashioned character.

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 11

Rolling into Hastings, you’ll be greeted by narrow cobbled lanes, quirky antique havens, and oh-so-charming cafes. But don’t be fooled by the small town vibe – Hastings has epic history! Be sure to explore the striking Hastings Castle ruins and transport yourself back to the Norman Conquest era.

Next up is St Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings’ artsy neighbor. Here, creativity and boho vibes flow through the streets. Funky boutiques, contemporary galleries, and an awesome beachfront promenade await. I’m talking colorful huts, cool sculptures, and plenty of character.

But the real charm of these towns lies in the people. Warm, welcoming locals who genuinely love their community. You’ll feel it in the buzzing atmosphere and see it in their smiling faces.

👉 Related post: How to Travel from London to Cardiff (Best routes)

Get some fresh air with a rejuvenating day trip to Surrey – one of the most recommended places to visit near London. This tranquil county is just outside the Big Smoke, but feels worlds away with its rolling green hills, charming villages, and laidback vibe.

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 12

Driving through Surrey’s country lanes is like pressing pause on life’s stresses. Gone are the crowded streets and skyscrapers – now it’s just you, vibrant nature, and some serious serenity.

Fancy a leisurely stroll? Lace up your walking shoes and meander along the River Wey, surrounded by soothing nature sounds. Prefer jaw-dropping views? Hike the Surrey Hills and soak up those sweeping vistas! Or uncover the county’s hidden gems – quaint cottages, colorful gardens, and cozy old pubs brimming with character.

Whether you crave outdoor adventures or just some good old-fashioned R&R, Surrey delivers. Its picturesque landscapes and welcoming villages call out: relax, unwind, and enjoy the simpler things!

🏨 Where to spend the night in Surrey: Hand & Spear , a boutique hotel where the spirit of Victoria reigns supreme. Step into a world where vintage retro artifacts, Secret Garden wallpaper, and plant-filled terrariums transport you back in time. 

London Day Trips To Other Countries

Why not take your day tours from London up a notch and book a day trip to somewhere outside the UK, like continental Europe?

Yep, you can easily make a memorable day of these international trips listed below, taking in the top highlights and landmarks of some major capital cities, and the best part is that all of these are less than 4 hours reach from London, with some of them just an hour jaunt. Here are my top recommendations:

12. Paris, France

First up, magical Paris is just a 2-hour train ride away. Lose yourself in iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, world-class art museums, and mouthwatering cuisine. Ooh la la!

13. Brussels, Belgium

Next, Brussels. This 2-hour train ride whisks you away to Belgian delights – think stunning architecture, decadent chocolate, and drool-worthy waffles. Don’t miss the historic Grand Place and Manneken Pis. For a complete guide, check out this London to Brussels post .

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 13

14. Dublin, Ireland

The Irish capital is only a 1-hour flight from London, enthralling visitors with its charming streets, lively pubs, and welcoming atmosphere. Discover renowned landmarks like Trinity College, housing the Book of Kells, the magnificent Dublin Castle, and the vibrant Temple Bar district.

➤ Did you know: 10 million pints of Guinness are produced in Dublin every day?

15. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Or how about Amsterdam? A 4-hour train journey transports you to the city of canals, vibrant nightlife, and amazing museums. Bike along those charming waterways and dive into Dutch culture.

16. Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is just a 4-hour train ride or 1-hour flight from London, enchants visitors with its rich history and iconic landmarks like the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, the cobblestone streets of the charming Royal Mile, and the beautiful Holyrood Palace. Lose yourself in the captivating atmosphere of the historic Scottish capital.

➤ Did you know: there’s a knighted penguin at Edinburgh Zoo? For more interesting facts, check out these 63 facts about Edinburgh here .

17. Berlin, Germany

Prefer a quick flight? In 2 hours, you can be immersed in Berlin’s dynamic arts and nightlife scene. Check out remnants of the Berlin Wall and soak up the history. Explore iconic landmarks like the historic Brandenburg Gate, and the magnificent Reichstag building, delving into the diverse culture and heritage of this captivating city.

18. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a 2.5 hour plane ride to sunny Spain, blessing you with architectural marvels like the Sagrada Familia, sandy beaches, and incredible food. ¡Olé!

19. Reykjavik, Iceland

And don’t forget exotic Reykjavik! Fly 3 hours to Iceland’s colorful capital and make your Game of Thrones dreams come true. Discover iconic attractions such as the striking Hallgrimskirkja Church, the scenic Golden Circle route encompassing Geysir and Gullfoss, and the stunning Blue Lagoon. Between stunning landscapes, natural hot springs, and potential Northern Light sightings, this city absolutely enchants.

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 14

20. Lisbon, Portugal

The Portuguese capital is just 2.5 hours on the plane from London and enthralls visitors with its captivating blend of history, picturesque coastlines, and delectable seafood. Be in awe of stunning landmarks such as the enchanting Belem Tower, the magnificent Jeronimos Monastery, and the colorful Alfama district, immersing yourself in the rich heritage of this coastal gem.

21. Rome, Italy

Just a 2-hour flight from London, history comes alive in the Italian capital, amidst ancient ruins, Renaissance art, and lively local energy. Marvel at the mighty Colosseum, tour the Vatican’s galleries, and wander through the Roman Forum’s crumbling pillars. Then indulge in velvety gelato, al dente pasta, and crisp Aperol spritzes. Between captivating sights and simple pleasures, Roma will steal your heart!

👉 Read more: 130+ Famous English Quotes

Renting a Car in London

So you’re in London, ready to embark on thrilling day trips outside the city. Renting a car is your golden ticket to unlocking a world of possibilities! Bid farewell to the crowded tubes and buses as you hit the road to explore enchanting countryside, majestic castles like Windsor Castle, prestigious universities like Oxford, and monolithic ruins of Stonehenge.

With a car, you’re the captain of your adventure, free to make detours, sing along to your favorite tunes, and maybe even engage in some questionable dance moves at traffic lights (no judgment here). I always use Discover Cars for the best deals on rentals. So, buckle up and let the open road be your guide!

Where can I go an hour away from London? 

Places an hour away from central London that are worth visiting include Windsor, Luton, Royal Tunbridge Wells, and Cambridge.

If you’re looking for a regal day trip from London, then hop in the car and head to Windsor. This quaint town is dominated by the magnificent Windsor Castle, the largest inhabited castle in the world and a favored weekend residence of the King.

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 15

According to Visit Britain’s 2022 survey, Windsor Castle remains the most visited royal residence in England.

Explore the castle’s opulent state apartments, stroll around the picturesque streets of the town, and take a walk in the sprawling Great Park. And don’t forget to indulge in a traditional English cream tea at one of the charming cafes before heading back to London. The drive to Windsor is a breeze and takes just over an hour, making it the perfect destination for a leisurely day trip. And of course, there’s LegoLand! 

What towns are 2 hours away from London?

Towns and cities that are around 2 hours away from London include Birmingham, Manchester, Derby, Bristol, and York. Here’s two of my recommendations:

Birmingham (1.5 hours by train, 2 hours by car)

Picture this: you hop aboard a train at the crack of dawn, leaving behind London’s hustle and bustle, as the scenery transforms into an English countryside extravaganza. Greeted by rolling hills, quaint villages, and endless greenery, you’ll feel the anticipation building as you speed toward Birmingham.

things to do in birmingham

First stop? Cadbury World, my sweet-toothed friends! Prepare for a mouthwatering adventure as you delve into the magical world of Cadbury, where chocolate reigns supreme. Unleash your inner Willy Wonka as you explore the captivating heritage, sample delicious treats, and even try your hand at crafting your own mouthwatering confections.

Following that, there’s plenty more to see and do in Birmingham, such as the Jewellery Quarter, National SEA LIFE Centre, Symphony Hall, and the popular Peaky Blinders tour , to name a few.

York (2.5 hours by train, 4 hours by car)

This medieval gem nestled in the heart of Yorkshire is bursting with history and charm. Prepare to be captivated by the majestic York Minster, a sight that will leave you breathless. Trust me, it’s like stepping into a fairytale!

21 Unforgettable Day Trips from London 2024: Hidden Gems and Must-Visit Destinations 16

As you stroll along the ancient city walls, you’ll feel the weight of centuries of stories and secrets whispering through the stone. And don’t even get me started on the narrow, winding streets of the Shambles! It’s like stepping back in time, with its charming timber-framed buildings that seem to lean in close and share their tales with passersby. York is a treasure trove for history buffs and adventurers alike.

Best London Day Trips: FAQs

Here are some commonly-asked questions about day trips from the English capital:

What is close to London for a day trip?

Historic cities like Oxford, Cambridge, and Bath make for great day trips from London. You can also visit royal sites like Windsor Castle or seaside towns like Brighton and Whitstable.

What is the best day tour of London?

Hop-on, hop-off bus tours are a great way to efficiently see top London sights like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye all in one day.

Where is good for a day trip in UK?

Some top day trip destinations from London include Stonehenge, York, Lake District, and Edinburgh if you take an early train. Each offers amazing history, scenery, and culture.

Can you do a day trip to Lake District from London?

The Lake District makes for an incredible yet long day trip from London. Take a morning train to experience the mountains, lakes, villages, and scenic hikes in a day.

What is 2 hours away from London?

Destinations about 2 hours from London by train include Cambridge with its famous university, royal Windsor Castle town, and seaside Brighton known for its pier.

Where can I go an hour away from London?

Places an hour from London include Windsor Castle, historic Greenwich, Richmond Park for wildlife spotting, and Kew Gardens’ beautiful landscapes.

How do I spend a day in Keswick?

In Keswick, hike Cat Bells for breathtaking Lake District views, cruise Derwentwater lake, explore the quirky Pencil Museum, and recharge at a local pub for dinner.

Day Trips from London Map

Click on the interactive map below to see the various day trip locations near London:

London & UK Travel Guides:

For more essential UK travel guide information, check out these articles:

✪ Ultimate UK Packing List (+ Free Checklist) ✪ 47 Interesting Facts About London You Probably Didn’t Know ✪ 17 Top Things to Do in Nottingham for a Fun Day Out ✪ Cockney Rhyming Slang: A Traveler’s Guide ✪ The Best Family-Friendly Things to Do in Derby, UK ✪ Where to stay in London for the first time ✪ Best Spots to Go Paddleboarding in London ✪ Best Days Out with Kids in Northwest England

There you have it, folks – the 21 most brilliant day trips for exploring beyond London’s city limits! From rolling green hills to windswept coastlines, charming villages to bustling cities, there’s something to spark every wanderlust.

History buffs, get your fill of castles, cathedrals, and ancient sites. Nature nerds, breathe in that fresh country air and roam peaceful trails. Foodies, sample local flavors from fish & chips to regional specialties. And thrill-seekers, hit the waves, cliffs, and trails for adventure.

The best part? These destinations are just a quick, comfy train ride away. Sit back, relax, and watch the city fade into quaint towns, vivid landscapes, and fresh experiences.

day trips london nature

London x London

Posted on Published: 10th November 2022  - Last updated: 5th December 2022 Categories Things to do

By: Author Julianna Barnaby

28 Brilliant Day Trips from London

28 Brilliant Day Trips from London

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We all love London… but the UK is full of wonderful spots that are ripe for exploration. Planning your next adventure? Here are 28 cool day trips from London to get you started.

London is a great city – but there’s so much more to the UK to explore.

Hop on a train or into your car and you can go on an adventure around some of the UK’s historic sites and beautiful landscapes.

In need of some inspiration? Check out this guide to the best day trips from London by train and by car.

Sneak a peek at the day trip destinations in this video to see what they look like in action!

Day Trips from London by Train

Planning your day trip from London? We love using Omio for finding the best deals when it comes to train travel around the UK. They work with over 1000 major travel companies to bring you the best deals (including many major airlines if you’re looking to travel a little bit further). 

Better yet, download the Omio App and you can store all of your travel tickets in one place. This means that you can spend less time organising your tickets and more time planning an adventure. Yes, please!

Radcliffe Camera Oxford

Oxford, the city of the dreaming spires is an easy day out from London. It’s only an hour on the train and trains run frequently until the early hours.

We might be biased, but we really think that it’s one of the best places to visit in the UK – a gorgeous city that’s brimming with history and cool things to do.

While there’s a lot to see in the city, its small size means that a lot of the biggest Oxford attractions are within easy walking distance of each other.

From the iconic Radcliffe Camera to the world-famous Ashmolean Museum, you certainly have your work cut out when it comes to seeing Oxford in a day – but it is possible. Start with this 24 Hours in Oxford guide .

Train departs from: London Paddington and London Marylebone

Average journey duration: 1 hour

Hassle-free option: Book this Oxford day trip from London

Read more: The Best Things to do in Oxford Finding Oxford’s Harry Potter Filming Locations

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury has always been an important place to visit in the UK – it was the destination for many a pilgrimage in times past (hence its role in Chaucer’s famous Canterbury Tales). It still deserves to be at the top of your list of days out from London today.

What’s there to see? How about one of England’s great cathedrals, ye olde English pubs and quaint little streets that look like they’ve been plucked straight from medieval times? Add to that a selection of cool museums and some scenic walks and you’ve got an excellent day trip in the making.

Train departs from: London Victoria and St Pancras International

Average journey duration: 1 hour from St Pancras, 1.5 hours from Victoria

Hassle-free option: Book this day trip to Canterbury and the White Cliffs of Dover

Read more: One Day in Canterbury Itinerary

Cambridge

Cambridge is beautiful. This world-famous university town is another popular day trip outside London – and for good reason.

Visiting impressive colleges such as Trinity College and King’s College (whose chapel you simply must see) would be enough to fill your day alone. But you should also take time to visit some of Cambridge’s other landmarks – The Fitzwilliam Museum and Botanical Gardens among them.

If you’re visiting in the warmer months be sure to hire a punt and indulge in the traditional pastime of gliding down the River Cam. Bonus points to you if you don’t fall in or lose your pole along the way.

Train departs from: Kings Cross and Liverpool Street

Average journey duration: 50 minutes from Kings Cross, 1 hour 20 minutes from Liverpool Street

Hassle-free option: Book this London to Cambridge Day Trip

Brighton

We think that Brighton is South East England’s coolest beach destination. 

First thing’s first – the beach is pebble – so don’t get your hopes up with dreams of golden sands. It’s still perfectly good for plumping down on your towel and soaking a few rays of the rare British sun.

Away from the beach, Brighton’s history as the seaside escape for the UK’s rich and famous has left its mark.

Long rows of Regency houses, the long-standing Pier, not to mention the out-and-out fabulous Brighton Pavillion stand as testament to Brighton’s colourful past.

There’s a thriving dining and drinking scene – and a number of cool little independent shops clustered in The Lanes area. Just be sure not to have so much fun that you miss the last train home (this has totally happened to me).

Train departs from: St Pancras International (also stops at Farringdon, Blackfriars and London Bridge) and London Victoria

Hassle-free option: Book a bike tour of Brighton (doesn’t include transport to Brighton)

Read Next: 21 Brilliant Beaches Near London

Hampton Court

Hampton Court is one of the easiest day trips from London – easy transport connections and short travel time make it perfect for an impromptu trip.

Hampton is pretty much all about the palace – which was first built by the ill-fated Cardinal Wolsey before being pinched by Henry VIII.

All six of Henry’s wives lived here at some point or another, before it passed through a number of hands and was finally opened to the public during the Victorian times.

Wonderful as Hampton Court’s interiors are, we would recommend visiting during the summer months when the gardens are at their best (avoid the summer holidays if you can though, when it’s always busy). Don’t miss the maze, which is the oldest surviving hedge maze in the world.

Train departs from: London Waterloo

Average journey duration: 50 minutes

Hassle-free option: Buy your Hampton Court tickets in advance

Bath Abbey

A trip to the Georgian spa town of Bath is like stepping straight into the pages of a Jane Austen novel (not surprising, seeing as she set so many of them there).

Jaunt around town, checking out the city’s many historical sites. Start with the immersive experience of the Roman Baths (unfortunately you’re not actually allowed to bathe there any more) and the Pump Room.

You can even “take the water” at the Pump Room – sipping on the supposedly restorative waters in the fashion of the hoi polloi of old.

We should warn you that the water tastes absolutely gross though.

Just across the road, Bath Abbey is one of the UK’s most beautiful cathedrals – make sure that you take a look inside too, it’s just as spectacular.

Small but entertaining, The Fashion Museum walks you through the catwalk of British fashion through the centuries.

Don’t think that Bath’s spa heritage is dead and gone – it’s still home to more than its fair share of spas that are perfect for a spot of pampering.

The reasonably-priced Thermae Bath Spa is a popular option thanks to its rooftop pool and indulgent massages, while the high-end Gainsborough Bath Spa is the place to go when you really want to push the boat out.

Train departs from: London Paddington

Average journey time: 1hr 30 minutes

Hassle-free option: Book this Bath & Stonehenge Day Trip

Windsor Castle, Near London

The fact that it’s the home of the royal residence Windsor Castle means that Windsor’s many other charms often get overlooked.

Windsor is well-known as one of the best day trips from London. Even so, many visitors disembark from the train, make a beeline for Windsor Castle, have a nose around and then head straight back home. It’s a shame as Windsor is a rather charming riverside town that merits your attention.

Sure, you should start your visit with a look at the castle, which just so happens to be the oldest inhabited castle in the world. The State Rooms and beautiful grounds take some time to explore.

However, you shouldn’t make the mistake of dashing home the moment that you are finished. Stick around to visit the Royal Windsor Racecourse and its more famous counterpart Royal Ascot Racecourse next door.

Or why not walk around the expansive Windsor Great Park then test your skills on the water rowing or kayaking along the Thames?

Train departs from: London Waterloo and Paddington Station

Average journey time: 50 minutes

Hassle-free option: Half-Day Windsor Day Trip and Tour

Read More: 15 Must-Visit Castles Near London

The Lake District

Lake District

The Lake District is a long day trip from London but it’s just about doable and worth the effort if you’re short on time and can’t stay overnight.

With its gorgeous green pastures, towering fells and chocolate-box villages, it’s no surprise that the Lake District tops the list of Britain’s beautiful regions. The fastest train to the Lake District takes around 2.5 hours to Oxenholme, so is easiest to tackle on a day trip from London.

Luckily, the area surrounding Oxenholme is ripe for exploration.

There are frequent buses to Kendal, a pretty Lakeland town with lots of cute shops and tea rooms. You can also catch a local train (or taxi) to Windermere – the most famous of the Lakes – the walks around the lake are superb.

As we have already mentioned – The Lake District is not close to London, so you will need to start early and come back late to make it worth the effort.

Don’t even think about doing it by car either – you can just about do it by train but you’re really much better off staying overnight if you want to drive. Or you can go the full mile and head off on a road trip to a few British national parks .

Train departs from: Euston

Average journey time: 2 hrs 45mins

Hassle-free option: A 10 lake day tour

Read more: Walking in the Lake District

York

Despite being pretty far from London, York is actually not a difficult day trip.

Trains take just a smidge under two hours and run frequently enough that you can just turn up and go.

The walled city is best-known for the Gothic masterpiece that is York Minster but, with more attractions per square mile than any other UK city, there’s a lot to see here.

It’s tough to cover it all in one day – start with York Minster, the fascinating Yorkshire Museum and York Castle Museum (which comes complete with a restored street of Victorian shops) then add in a few other spots if time allows.

Chocolate-lovers will want to head to Chocolate Story – where you can learn about York’s important role in the history of British chocolate and, more importantly, gorge yourself on your own handmade chocolate bar.

Train departs from: King’s Cross

Average journey time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Hassle-free option: See the best sights on foot

Lewes (pronounced Lewis ) often sits in the shadow of nearby Brighton, but there’s a lot to charm in the county town of East Sussex on a one day trip from London.

The town itself is pretty, with a few spots like Lewes Castle, the remains of Lewes Priory and the timber-framed Anne of Cleves House to lure you in for an hour or two.

A surprising number of Lewes’ medieval buildings have survived the test of time – there’s history around every corner.

Personally, we think the spectacular walks in the area surrounding Lewes are also worth the trip. We recommend the six-mile walk to Glynde – there are a couple of steep hills but each step comes with views out over the South Downs.

You can extend the walk to Southease and back to Lewes if you’re feeling really energetic – then quench your thirst with a locally-brewed pint of Harvey’s when you’re finished.

Train departs from: London Victoria

Average journey time: 1 hour

Hassle-free option: This is a DIY trip – but it’s really easy

Read More: Fantastic Hikes Near London You Shouldn’t Miss

Colchester is Britain’s oldest recorded town. With a long history that dates back beyond the Roman times, it was a Roman city and traces of that heritage can still be found dotted all over Colchester today.

Walking in the footsteps of the Romans, visit the remains of the Roman wall, as well as the Roman Circus – the only verified Roman chariot-racing track still standing.

Move onto Colchester Castle, which while not Roman itself, displays a few Roman mosaics and many Roman artifacts in the large Norman keep.

The castle is actually the largest Norman keep in Europe – testament to the fact that you can pretty much spy architecture from every single period in British history in Colchester.

Away from the past Colchester also happens to be the home of some very good tea shops. It would be rude not to indulge in a cream tea before you hop on the train back home again.

Train departs from: Liverpool Street

Hassle-free option: Book onto one of the frequent tours run by Visit Colchester

Whitstable

There haven’t been nearly enough seaside towns in this guide to day trips around London – time to fix that. Where better to head to than Whitstable with its picturesque, cobbled streets and famous oyster eateries?

There’s not a tonne to do in Whitstable – you can visit Whitstable Castle, but really, most of the appeal is wandering around the gorgeous town, seafront and harbour.

Seafood-lovers will be in their element – there’s no better place to tuck into a pint of fresh prawns or guzzle down half-a-dozen oysters.

If you’re really keen, time your visit for the annual knees up that is the Whitstable Oyster Festival .

Not only can you eat all the oysters you can ever dream of (20 is our personal best), but there’s live music and markets selling local wares and wine.

Train departs from: St Pancras International, London Bridge and London Victoria

Average journey time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Hassle-free option: None – but it’s a really easy trip

Henley on Thames

More than just the annual regatta that sees it burst into life, Henley on Thames is one of England’s traditional market towns.

The best way to explore Henley on Thames is on a self-guided walking tour – be sure to stop by the River & Rowing Museum for a walk through the history of the famous sport.

It contains an immersive Wind in the Willows experience that’s just as fun for adults as it is for kids – you’re led through the eccentric world of Mr Toad, Badger, Ratty and Mole.

Henley also used to hold the dubious title of having more pubs per head than any other town in the south east. While those days are gone, the upshot is that there are still a number of cool little pubs for you to explore.

Train departs from: London Paddington, change at Twyford

Average journey time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Hassle-free option: Just hop on a train and go and explore

Margate’s renaissance has been a marvel to behold. Once the darling of the British seaside, it had a bit of a slump before transforming itself into one of the UK’s coolest seaside spots.

That transformation is complete – these days you’re more likely to hear Margate being compared with Copenhagen than with any shoddy seaside town.

There’s the Turner Contemporary of course, which turned heads when it opened in 2011 and is still doing so several years later.

Add to that an assortment of chic independent shops, contemporary restaurants and even a gorgeous tidal pool for a quick dip and you’ll start to understand why it charms the pants off of so many people.

Average journey time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Hassle-free option: Check out the Thanet Tourist Board’s Page for Inspiration

Manchester

Manchester is the small city that packs a big punch. With a strong culture and identity (think the Industrial Revolution and Oasis and you’re on the right track) a visit to Manchester is a breath of fresh air.

There’s too much to see in one day – Manchester Art Gallery, Imperial War Museum North, a guided tour of the BBC, the Museum of Science & History among them. If you’re a footie fan, a visit to Old Trafford is a must.

Seeing as you’re short on time, we recommend stopping off at a few museums, visiting Manchester Cathedral and fuelling up from one of the city’s cool eateries. Then, if you’re so inclined, stay for a taste of Manchester’s legendary nightlife before you head back home.

Average journey time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Hassle-free option:  Book a private tour with a local (transport to Manchester not included)

Bristol

Bristol is one of our favourite cities. The chilled-out, easygoing city (which just so happens to be the largest in the southwest) is a brilliant day trip from London.

Bristol is a city of contrast – on the one hand, there are plenty of big landmarks to see – the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the SS Great Britain being two. On the other hand, a lot of the city’s appeal is the cool and quirky culture it’s fostered over the years.

A hive of street art, indie cafes (where you can guarantee you’ll get a great flat white) and alternative music venues – Bristol is just so damned cool.

It’s perhaps no surprise that one of the city’s biggest claims to fame is that the street artist Banksy hails from there.

Hassle-free option: Book this Self Guided Tour

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Visit Lincoln (@visitlincoln)

Although it was previously a bit far for a day trip, LNER has launched new trains to Lincoln after the success of their Lincoln Experience event, which was part of a Visit Lincoln week celebrating the city. 

This is big news. It means that in just two hours you can escape London and make your way to the city steeped in Roman history.

The day trip alone is worth it for Lincoln castle and the picturesque grounds surrounding it, but you’ve also got plenty of shops, cafes, and pubs to make your way through in the city centre between museum hopping.  

Train departs from: London King’s Cross

Average journey time: 2 hours 19 minutes

Hassle-free option Book a guided walking tour of the city

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Stonehenge (@stonehenge)

As one of the strangest day trips from London, a visit to the mysterious Stonehenge is a must for everyone. This is a rock formation that has puzzled historians for centuries.

How did the stones get there? Nobody is quite sure, but experts reckon that they were carried for over 160 miles, so they must be pretty special. 

We highly recommend booking a guided tour of the site, so you get to hear about all the interesting theories surrounding the mystical Stonehenge – and you can ask any burning questions (trust me, you’ll have a few).

Bear in mind that post-lockdown you need to book your entry time slot for Stonehenge well in advance, and remember to bring your booking confirmation with you.

Train departs from: Waterloo

Average journey time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Hassle-free option: A morning tour of Stonehenge with London transfers

Harry Potter Studios

Hogwarts

From the mystical to the pure magical – if you haven’t visited the Harry Potter Studios yet, what are you waiting for? 

This is one of the best family days out near London and whether you’re a Potterhead or not, it’s so fun to go behind the scenes of arguably the most popular franchise to ever exist.

If the idea of heading to a city and wandering aimlessly doesn’t appeal to you, book yourself a ticket to the studios and experience Hogwarts for yourself.

If you want the full lowdown on the studio tour, including how to get there, tickets, and what to expect when you arrive, check out this article.

Train departs from: London Euston

Average journey time: 30 minutes

Hassle-free option: Entry tickets and London transfers all rolled into one

Cheltenham

This old spa town is one of the prettiest in Gloucestershire and can be reached in around 2 hours from London. Cheltenham boasts Regency buildings in abundance, including the Pittville pump room which was incredibly important in Cheltenham’s spa town history. 

Famed for hosting both the Cheltenham Horse Racing Festival and the Jazz Festival, this historic town is incredibly lively during the summer months. 

Don’t get us wrong, it’s equally beautiful in winter – but there’s just something so magical about hanging out in Montpellier Gardens in the sunshine.

Make sure to visit The Wilson Museum for fine art and catch a movie at the Everyman Theatre – the ornate Victorian ceiling is divine.

Average journey time: 2 hours

Hassle-free option: Take a self-guided tour

Cardiff

Explore two capitals in one day by taking a day trip to Cardiff. It’s surprisingly easy thanks to the high speed train from London Paddington, and Cardiff Castle is beautiful and well worth the journey alone.

Other things to do in Cardiff include taking a trip to the famous Wales Millenium Centre – an arts centre which hosts plenty of live performances and workshops – and exploring the harbour nearby, as well as trying a famous Welsh Cake. Fabulous Welshcakes (opposite the castle) is our top pick for the best.

Hassle-free option: Take a day trip tour from London

Guildford

Guildford is a picturesque medieval town with a castle at its heart. It’s a surprisingly quick day trip here from London and one we implore you to make – after all, it’s one of our favourite places to visit outside London.

Nestled in the Surrey countryside, it may be small but this town certainly packs a punch when it comes to things to do. Not to mention it’s filled with plenty of brilliant pubs for a well-deserved pint.

What to do? Our top picks include Guildford House, a 17th-century townhouse gallery with rotating exhibitions, hikes along dapdune walk, and a visit to the hilltop cathedral that boasts views of the town.

Hassle-free option: Take a walking tour

Day Trips from London by Car

Easy as it is to hop out of London on a train, some places are more suited to day trips from London by car.

The Cotswolds

Cotswolds

It’s a rare event indeed when the words picture-perfect and Cotswolds aren’t mentioned in the same breath.

The Cotswolds is the kind of England you find on the postcards – twee villages with thatched cottages in golden hues, rolling green hills, steaming piles of scones piled high with jam and clotted cream for your afternoon tea.

If it all sounds perfectly lovely, it is.

There’s a reason that the Cotswolds find themselves on many a travel itinerary. Bibury and Burford are two of the prettiest villages- be sure to visit them during your trip.

If you want to see as many villages as possible, I’d recommend starting in Burford and finishing in Winchcombe, meandering through Northleach, Lower and Upper Slaughter, Moreton-in-Marsh and Chipping Camden along the way.

It’s an easy drive, but it means you don’t get much time any one spot.

Alternatively, you can narrow it down to a couple of villages and add in a long walk and some afternoon tea for a much more relaxed trip.

Average driving time from central London: 2 hours

Hassle-free option: Book this full-day Cotswolds four-village tour

Read Next: Pretty Spots You Have to Visit in the Cotswolds

Stratford Upon Avon

Stratford Upon Avon

Stratford Upon Avon – the birthplace of Britain’s famous bard, Shakespeare and a twee little Tudor town set around the River Avon.

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Theatre dominates the town – rightly so. There’s always something fantastic to see on one of its several stages.

Away from the theatre, Stratford Upon Avon’s Tudor architecture offers a glimpse into days of yore. You can visit Shakespeare’s birthplace, as well as the home that he retired to after the bright lights of London proved too much.

His final resting place, Holy Trinity Church is said to be the most visited parish church in the country.

But Stratford isn’t just Shakespeare – hop onto a boat and row along the Avon, go on a river walk out of town, hole up in an old pub for a pint or two and appreciate the sleepy appeal of this quaint little town.

Seven Sisters Country Park

Seven Sisters

There are few landscapes as striking as the sight of the chalk faces of the Seven Sisters rising up from the coast.

These gorgeous cliffs form the focal point of the larger Seven Sisters Country Park, part of the South Downs National Park.

Strap on your hiking boots and set off on a walk along the Sisters for a refreshing day out from London. Park at the Visitor Centre (where you can also pop in to learn about the history of the country park) and take the path to Seaford Head View Point for the classic view of the cliffs.

Alternatively, why not tackle the part of the South Downs Way that runs through the country park and over the sisters themselves.

Hassle-free option: Seven Sisters and South Downs day trip

The New Forest

New Forest

The New Forest might be less than 100 miles outside of London but it feels like a world away. It’s the largest stretch of unenclosed pasture land and forest in the country and is famous for the wild ponies that roam across its lands.

In terms of attractions, The New Forest has surprisingly varied arsenal of things to see. Beaulieu, a vintage car museum, stately home and medieval monastery rolled into one is one such destination and worth seeing if you’re not a complete petrolhead.

Still, a lot of the appeal is in getting outdoors and onto the many walking trails that crisscross the region. Be sure to wear some comfortable shoes.

Hassle-free option: Train to Lymington or Brockenhurst and hop onto the New Forest tour bus

Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle

London has plenty of castles nearby that make for great day trips, and, despite its name, Leeds Castle is actually in Kent.

This castle is no stranger to royalty with 6 medieval queens previously residing here, and Queen Elizabeth I was even imprisoned at the castle before her coronation. If you fancy stretching the day trip into an overnight experience and live the life of a royal yourself (who wouldn’t?) you can even book a place to sleep in the Maiden’s Tower.

Humbly labelling itself as the “loveliest castle in the world”, you’ve got over 900 years of history to uncover at Leeds Castle – if you can make it past the moat!

Tickets cost £28 for adults and £19.50 for kids, but you get a better deal if there’s a group of you, which is definitely worth looking into.

Average driving time from central London: 1 hour 15 minutes

Hassle-free option: Tour Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral and Dover with transfers from London

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

Yes, this is the Downton Abbey Castle. I can’t guarantee that you’ll run into any of the Crawley family while you’re there, but I can promise you a brilliant day trip from London at Highclere Castle .

Take a walk around the grounds and make sure to snap some all-important insta pics of the Jacobethan facade, before you enter the castle and soak in all the history.

Admission tickets cost £24 for adults and £14 for children but check out the website as they host plenty of special events throughout the year, including Downton Abbey Tours and quaint Afternoon Teas.

Average driving time from central London: 1 hour 30 minutes Hassle-free option: Combine Highclere Castle with Oxford

Cirencester

Cirencester

Looking for the best day trip from London? Technically Cirencester is in the Cotswolds, but we think it’s so nice that it’s worth us raving about it separately. It has, like many other English cities, a distinctive Roman history that you can explore in the Corinium Museum.

Cirencester is also great when it comes to shopping – it boasts plenty of independent boutiques and dreamy bookshops that you could spend an entire day exploring alone. 

Cirencester Park is the perfect place to spend an hour or two if the sun decides to make a much-welcomed appearance. You might just catch a game of Polo here, too.

Average driving time from central London: 2 hours 15 minutes

Hassle-free option: There isn’t one – though this is an easy DIY

So, there we are – 28 day trips outside London. We hope that you have found more than a few things to inspire your next jaunt out of the city.

PS: Looking for a longer trip? You’ll want to scope out our guide to Weekend Getaways from London .

Practical Tips for Planning Day Trips Out of London

  • It’s always worth checking your train times but you should be sure to do so if you are planning to do your day trip on a Sunday. Sunday train service is notoriously bad – with rail replacement buses, less frequent services or indirect connections often popping up to mess up your travel plans.
  • If you are travelling by train, try and book your tickets as far ahead as possible for the best prices. You should also consider whether it’s worth purchasing one of the many railcards available if there are a few of you travelling or you plan to do several excursions within a short period of time.

Best London Day Trips: Map

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London Day Trips

24 Hours in Oxford – insidersoxford.com

Wednesday 5th of May 2021

[…] looking for a short break or escape in the United Kingdom within easy reach of London, Oxford is a perfect day trip. Even if you aren’t, you should go […]

Wednesday 27th of May 2020

Juliana - thank you for all of your posts. We have one weekend left in London coming up before returning to the US. We've been here 3 months and enjoyed exploring London by foot and the city cycles.

I'd love a recommendation on a day trip knowing we have to take the train and that we are still in lock down (somewhat).

In the last weeks we visited Cambridge, Hastings, Greenwich and Seven Sisters. Prior to lock down we have visited the Cotswalds and the Lake District and Oxford.

I look forward to your reply! Beth

Julianna Barnaby

Thursday 28th of May 2020

A total pleasure Beth - sounds like you've been exploring a lot! If you haven't been to Bath, I'd normally recommend a trip there - it's very pretty but obviously destinations like the Roman Baths and the Pump Rooms will be closed. I would say the city is pretty enough to more than justify a trip to spend some time walking around. That said, I think the official guidance is only to use transport for necessary journeys, so I'd check that before you book anything.

Sunday 3rd of February 2019

What a great assortment of day trips! I've bookmarked this post for when I'm visiting London later this year - so handy. Thanks very much!

Tuesday 5th of February 2019

Thanks Lesley - I hope you get to head on at least a couple of the day trips while you're in London. Have an awesome trip!

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Day trips from London

Britain packs a punch when it comes to the eclectic range of destinations within close proximity to London. Whether it’s experiencing the charm of the English countryside, breathing in the sea air, or walking in the footsteps of historic and literary greats, there’s plenty of opportunities to see Britain differently.

With the nation’s capital as your base, you can embark on a diverse choice of day trips from London. All have great transport links too, making it easy to discover the best of what each location has to offer.

VisitBritain

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Brighton Beach

Explore Brighton’s beachfront with its iconic pier, colourful beach huts, the Artists’ Quarter galleries, independent traders and Sea Life aquarium. After dark, hit the clubs and bars beneath the Victorian beachfront for cocktails and dancing.

SUP Bristol

A person paddleboarding in the middle of Bristol's harbourside

Looking for a different kind of sightseeing tour? On a paddleboard, you’ll witness the nature, beauty and relaxed pace of life on Bristol’s waterways and harbourside – and get a great workout too. This award-winning company offers group sessions every day of the week, as well as private classes, family bookings and tours further afield – to the likes of Pembrokeshire and The Gower, in Wales.

Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2022

Visitors with ice cream, Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

Walk through 1,000 years of history at Windsor Castle, exploring its opulent state rooms and superb royal artefacts – such as the lavish gifts received by Queen Elizabeth throughout her reign.

Your ticket includes St George’s Chapel, where several royal couples have married.

Christ Church CollegeatChrist Church _ Experience Oxfordshire

Oxford Alumni Harry Potter Tour

Combine movie legends with fascinating history on this Harry Potter-themed walking tour, which visits key Oxford locations used in the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ and ‘Goblet of Fire’ films. Every tour is hosted by Oxford University alumni or students, so you’ll also learn all about life in this world-famous academic institution and beautiful city – a treat for both wizards and muggles!

VisitBritain/Jon Attenborough

Two people sitting in an archway outside landmark building

Cambridge University – The Theory of Everything

In the Theory of Everything film, St John’s College doubled as Trinity Hall, where Professor Stephen Hawking studied. See where the May Ball scene was filmed on the lawn outside the New Court Building, in which staunch atheist Hawking falls in love with devout Christian Jane Wilde.

rockin.goodtimes

Shell Grotto

The Shell Grotto

Decorated with an incredible 4.6 million shells, this spectacular underground hideaway has to be seen to be believed. It was discovered by accident in 1835, and nobody knows its origins. Was it a temple? A rich person’s folly? Enter the tunnels and decide for yourself.

Top day trips from London

London is an ideal base for a British adventure, with a wealth of unique day trips on the doorstep. With numerous rail hubs in the city, these day trips from London range from approximately 25 to 100 miles (40km-160km), are easy to get to by car if you’re hiring one, or take between 30 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes by train.

The city of Cambridge is a hotbed of history, architecture and innovation.

Shutterstock/Pajor Pawel

View of college in Cambridge with people punting on River

Cool creative Bristol is a must-see for art, culture and action-packed adventure.

VisitBritain/Rod Edwards

Lit up hot air balloons and fireworks in the night sky

Just an hour by train from London and you’re in the city of dreaming spires.

VisitBritain/Jess Barfield

Two boys playing on a path in front of a palace

Lovers of The Crown can wrap themselves in royalty as this town is about as regal as it gets.

Guards marching, Windsor Castle

A quirky seaside city filled with diverse cuisine, vintage shopping and adrenaline fuelled adventure.

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Group of friends in climbing gear at the top of i360 pod overlooking the coastline in Brighton

From ice-cream parlours to sea food festivals, the ‘Garden of England’ is meant for discovery.

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Man and woman walking between vines at a vineyard

A perfect blend of nature and urban living. Colchester, Essex, was made to be explored.

Indre @Colchesterstreets

Man walking through arch covered in flowers at Lion Walk, Colchester

A wellness retreat for the Romans and Georgian architecture around every corner.

Woman swimming in a swimming pool at a spa

Top destinations

Getting here: Around 50 mins by train from London King’s Cross station, or around 1 hour 20 minutes from London Liverpool Street station. Or 60 miles (96km) from London by car (1 hour 30 minutes).

Cambridge is known for its iconic University, where the late Professor Sir Stephen Hawking studied. Some of the city’s highlights include the University’s Botanic Garden, eclectic street food at Market Square, and leisurely punts along the River Cam.

Two women walking under the arches of a college quad

Getting here: Around 40 minutes by train from London Paddington station or around 1 hour from London Waterloo station. Or 27 miles (43km) from London by car (1 hour).

For a taste of Royal Britain, head to Windsor. One of the most famous landmarks is Windsor Castle, the largest inhabited castle in the world and an official residence of King Charles III. The charming town is packed with half-timbered houses and quaint shops, while Windsor Great Park has something for all ages. Eton College, just across the River Thames, can be toured and also boasts notable alumni including George Orwell and Prince William.

VisitBritain/Ben Selway

A Chinese couple entering a Windsor tea room to have cream tea. Antique signs.

Getting here: Around 50 mins by train from London Paddington station, or 60 miles (96km) from London by car (1 hour 45 minutes).

With history at every turn, you can be in the heart of Oxford’s cobbled lanes and canals in no time. A tour of Britain’s oldest university is a must, while Harry Potter fans can spot famous landmarks which featured in several of the movies. From modern art to history-filled museums, look out for the Bodleian Library on this unmissable day trip.

Bodleian Libraries/Stu Heppell

Olds Schools Quad, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford

Getting here: Around 1 hour 30 minutes by train from London Paddington station, or 118 miles (190km) from London by car (2 hour 20 minutes).

Bristol, a mecca for street art and the birthplace of Banksy, is a cultural and artistic hub with plenty to offer for all tastes. Highlights include surfing at The Wave, delicious eats at the historic St Nicholas Market, and numerous artistic tours and workshops. With multiple museums, craft beers to taste, paddle boarding on Bristol’s waterways and more, you’ll be spoilt for choice on things to do.

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Rear view of an standing on paddleboard on river at dawn.

Getting here: Around 50 minutes from London St Pancras station by train, or around 1 hour 30 minutes from London Victoria station. Or 60 miles (97km) from London by car (1 hour 30 minutes).

There’s more than one tale to discover in Canterbury. Where pilgrims walked and Romans ruled, this city that is home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites has never stood still in the face of time. Wake up under the shadows of towering cathedral spires with a stay in the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge or pick up an ale at Canterbury’s 14th century pub. With history to uncover, a river punt to see the sights and several nearby vineyards too, Canterbury is calling you.

VisitBritain/Raul Caramizaru

Punting between white houses with black beams

Getting here: Around a 1 hour journey by train from London Liverpool Street, or 67 miles (108km) from London by car (1 hour 40 minutes).

A blissful blend of nature and urban living, Britain’s oldest city was made to explored. Step back in time and uncover the hidden secrets of Europe’s largest Norman Keep, prisons and vaults. A journey out to neighbouring Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty connects you to the environment, with foraging walks or cycling adventures on offer. From local flavours to contemporary art, and plenty of history, now’s the time to unlock the stories of Colchester that span over 2000 years.

Colchester City Council

Mother and daughter looking at a display case in Colchester Castle museum

Seaside day trips from London

Group of friends in climbing gear at the top of i360 pod overlooking the coastline in Brighton

Getting here: Around 1 hour 30 minutes by train from London St Pancras, London Victoria or Charing Cross stations. Or 75 miles (121km) from London by car (2 hours).

Found to the south east of London on Kent’s northern coast, Margate’s sandy beach and seafront provide a taste of traditional seaside Britain. The revived Old Town is awash with cafes, retro shops and vibrant independent stores, as well as eclectic art and tasty food from pop up stalls. Discover the region’s artistic past at the Turner Contemporary gallery, or be immersed in the mysteries of the Shell Grotto, a captivating subterranean complex first discovered in 1835. From sea front hotels to cosy bed and breakfast options, Margate also has a broad range of places to stay if you fancy more than a day trip.

Getting here: Around 60 minutes by train from London Victoria, London Bridge, Blackfriars or London St Pancras stations. 0r 60 miles (96km) from London by car (2 hours).

Eccentric and trendy, head south to Brighton for its boho shopping streets and for a taste of traditional fish and chips on the beach. Try adrenaline-fuelled roller coasters on Brighton Pier, be immersed in the city’s vibrant LGBTQIA+ scene, or climb to the top of the Brighton i360 observation tower for breathtaking views. Marvel at the architecture of the Royal Pavilion, and absorb the charm of this British seaside resort.  Choose from a wide range of accommodation options if you want to spend more than a day here too.

Getting here: Around 1 hour 30 minutes by train from London Victoria, or 75 miles (120km) from London by car (2 hours).

Eastbourne, on England’s southern coast, mixes history and culture with striking outdoor landscapes. Explore the town’s wealth of independent shops in Little Chelsea, browse contemporary art at Towner Eastbourne, the south-east’s largest purpose-built gallery, and sample fish and chips on the town’s Victorian pier for lunch. For something a little more adventurous, venture out onto the water for kayaking or paddle boarding. Eastbourne also boasts vast green spaces for scenic coastal hikes, where you can admire the chalky white cliffs of Seven Sisters and the luscious Seven Sisters Country Park. Great as a day trip, there’s also an array of seafront hotels and guest houses if you fancy an extended stay.

Around 1 hour 30 minutes by train from London Bridge, or 70 miles (113km) from London by car (1 hour 50 minutes).

Steeped in history, Hastings has a rich fishing heritage and is home to Britain’s steepest funicular railway, offering stunning views across the English Channel. While the town gives its name to one of the most significant battles in British history in 1066, explore the historic conflict’s actual location a few miles to the north at Battle Abbey. Hastings Pier offers modern amusements and seaside views, while the Shipwreck Museum reveals rare artefacts from sunken vessels. Browse an eclectic mix of exhibitions and modern art at Hastings Contemporary, or head into nature at the Hastings Country Park Local Nature Reserve. If you’re keen to spend more than a day here, Hastings has a range of accommodation options for all budgets too.

Southampton

Getting here: Around 1 hour 20 minutes by train from London Waterloo station, or 80 miles (129km) from London by car (2 hours).

A catalyst for creatives, Southampton shines bright with artsy vibes, exhilarating watersports and relaxing boat trips. Discover contemporary galleries or indulge in luxury at the Ocean Village Marina. Or out on the water, pick up a paddle for a unique way to see the city. From clambering up the Clock Tower to tucking into seafood delights, uncover the bounties of this coastal city. Opt to spend longer here and look to Southampton’s abundance of places to stay , with waterfront views, city centre hotels and rural escapes all on offer.

Getting here: Around 1 hour 30 minutes by train from London Waterloo station, or 77 miles (124km) from London by car (2 hours).

Whether its for a slice of history, nature or film, Portsmouth is a melting pot of what makes Britain brilliant. A star of the screen, look to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for scenes from Les Misérables alongside maritime history in its museums, galleries, and ships. Take your tea quite literally higher, with an afternoon tea at the tip of the Spinnaker Tower. Or for those that dare, up the antics with an abseil 100m down the iconic building. Choose to extend your stay and have your pick of hotels , guest houses and campsites with budget friendly options too.

Looking further afield

If you’re willing to travel slightly further, all of these locations are accessible via train from London in under three hours.

World-class football and a music scene that brought Oasis to centre stage – there’s lots to love about Manchester.

VisitBritain/Manchester Craft Beer Festival

DJ playing to groups of people at Manchester Craft Beer Festival, in Depot Mayfield, Manchester

A hotbed for shopping and the arts, you’ll find lots to explore in Leeds.

VisitBritain/Thomas Heaton

The Victorian formal gardens with statues and low hedges in front of Harewood House

Steeped in legends that surround Robin Hood to literary greats, discover what this city has to offer.

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A performer in front of Nottingham Castle

An industrial hub with a vibrant, creative heart and a whole host of quirky adventures.

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Historical building, with a clock tower, beside a fountain

Step into a land of castles, world-renowned rugby and a whole host of myths and legends.

A gay couple enjoying the shopping facilities at Castle Arcade in Cardiff, Wales

Lush rolling pastures, pretty stone villages and rambling rivers - the Cotswolds has it all.

Cotswolds, England

Pärchen, das sich im Garten in der Nähe eines Springbrunnens umarmt

From a Medieval monarch found under a car park to the city’s celebration of multicultural modern life, Leicester has it all. See the top things to do here.

Visit Leicester

Leicester, England

An outdoor view of Leicester's historic Guild Hall

Known as the City of Stories, create your own narrative as you explore Norwich’s huge array of historic and modern day attractions.

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Norwich, England

A group of people paddleboarding on the River Wensum

Not found what you were looking for?

Try These 10 Best Day Trips From London For Memorable Adventures

Discover captivating day trips from London for unforgettable adventures. Explore history, nature, and culture just a short journey away!

  • Uncover the beauty of the English countryside with unforgettable day trips from London, exploring historical sites, charming towns, and natural landscapes.
  • These handpicked destinations offer a perfect blend of culture, relaxation, and excitement, promising to make your London experience truly remarkable.
  • From the stunning Windsor Castle and the mystique of Stonehenge to the charming streets of Oxford and the maritime magic of Bath, these day trips offer a tapestry of memories just a stone's throw away from the bustling capital.

Travelers escape the bustling streets of London and embark on unforgettable day trips to uncover the beauty of the English countryside. They explore the fascinating history of Windsor Castle , indulge in the mystique of Stonehenge, or wander through the charming streets of Oxford. They unwind in the scenic villages of the Cotswolds , where thatched cottages spot the landscape. For a touch of maritime magic, people visit the historic city of Bath, with its Roman baths and Georgian architecture . These day trips promise a tapestry of memories, presenting an ideal blend of history, culture, and natural splendor just a stone's throw away from the vibrant capital.

People discover a world of unforgettable escapades just a stone's throw away from the bustling heart of London. This article delves into the best day trips for those seeking memorable adventures beyond the city limits. From charming historical towns to breathtaking natural landscapes, these handpicked destinations offer a perfect blend of culture, relaxation, and excitement. Travelers embark on journeys that promise to make your London experience truly remarkable.

The Charm Brighton Boutique Hotel and Spa

The laindons, bathen house boutique hotel, dunkerleys hotel, jeakes house, the beetroot, macdonald windsor hotel, old bank hotel, abode canterbury, hotel du vin & bistro cambridge.

With its rock beach, live music venues, and humming LGBTQ+ scene, there’s nowhere better for topping up someone's Vitamin Sea levels than Brighton. They start their day by weaving seagulls on the Palace Pier, then shop up a storm in the Lanes, which are packed with separate boutiques, stores, and vegan eateries. They sit down in the Brighton Beer Dispensary, which backs Sussex breweries like the Hand Brew Co.

  • Distance from London: 1 hour by train, from Victoria, Blackfriars, or London Bridge, and around 2 hours by car.

20-21 New Steine, Brighton

Related: Brighton Beach Is A Sweet Summer Alternative To Coney Island

Hastings offers a lot of history, from the battlefield of William the Conqueror’s triumph in 1066 to its role as an eighteenth-century smuggling hotspot. London’s sunseekers have been herding to this town for centuries. They learn more about its rich history by exploring the gorgeous ruins of its Norman castle or visiting the museum lodged in former smugglers’ caves. Some visitors prefer to browse the independent shops in the scenic Old Town, trek along the pier, and just take some time to admire the views from the clifftop, the Hill Cliff Railway, before ending their days in accommodations as comfortable as London hotels .

  • Distance from London: 1 hour 30 minutes by train, from London Bridge, and around 2 hours by car

23 High Street, Hastings, TN34 3EY

Bath is the largest city in all of Somerset, England. It is named after its key interest: the Roman Baths. The city itself is beautiful and is one of the top day trips from London. People visit the Roman Baths and head to the amazing rooftop spa that includes hot and cold pools and delivers the best view of the historic city from above. After a nice day at the spa, people head into town for afternoon tea to make the most out of the day.

  • Distance from London: 1.75 hours by train from Paddington Station

88 Newbridge Hill, Bath, BA1 3QA

Deal features quaint rows of Georgian houses, special boutiques, and a well-loved Saturday market. People visit the Deal Castle built by Henry VIII, then treat themselves to lunch at 81 Beach Street or Victuals & Co. Visitors make sure they stop by Taylor-Jones & Son, the homewares boutique where the sheepdog, Delilah will welcome them with open paws.

  • Distance from London: 1 hour 20 minutes by train, from St Pancras International, and around 2 hours by car.

19 Beach Street, Deal, CT14 7AH

Rye brags antique shops and cobbled lanes, making it feel like a little piece of the charming Cotswolds on the seaside. After people skimmed around the Tiny Book Store, they treat themselves to a seafood lunch encircled by lobster pots at Globe Inn Marsh, followed by a glass of local wine at The George. The Chapel Down vineyard is well worth a visit for people wanting to know the wine-making or enjoy their signature wine tasting.

  • Distance from London: 1 hour 10 minutes by train, from St Pancras International, and around 2 hours by car.

Jeakes House Mermaid Street, Rye, TN31 7ET

Margate is dense with cold-brew coffee and craft beer, helping people survive windy sea breezes. They start at the Turner Contemporary Gallery, then go to the retro theme park and roller-disco Dreamland. They then head to Hantverk & Found for a fresh seafood lunch and natural wines. They go shopping, snapping up vintage pieces in Breuer & Dawson and skincare at Haeckels.

  • Distance from London: 1 hour 25 minutes by train, from St Pancras International, and around 2 hours by car.

Market Street Car Park, Margate, CT9 1EU

The beautiful town of Windsor is home to the British Royal Family. For history lovers, a day trip to Windsor is a must. Situated in Southeast England, Windsor Castle is residence to 1000 years of royal history and is the most senior and most extensive castle in the entire world. People visit the castle to learn about British history, see the changing of the guard, St George’s Chapel, the state apartments, and much more.

  • Distance from London: 40 minutes by train, from Paddington Station and around 50 minutes by car

23 High Street, Windsor, SL4 1LH

Oxford is a known academic opponent of Cambridge and one of the best day trips from London. Oxford University is composed of 38 colleges loaded within the medieval city and full of history, culture, and architecture. Church College is one of the most dramatic and famous university buildings worth checking out. People also visit the Oxford Botanic Garden, Museum of the History of Science, Arboretum, Harry Potter films location, and much more.

  • Distance from London: 1 hour and 20 minutes by car or train from Paddington Station

92-94 High Street, Oxford, OX1 4BN

Related: Oxford: Discover The Most Historic University Town With These Tours

Canterbury is the place where people came for a big old religious knees-up In Chaucer’s day. Today, it is a little more calm, but its large student population means there’s still a nicely wild edge. People stroll down the King’s Mile, home to boutiques, and have a pizza straight from the oven at the indoor farmers’ market, The Goods Shed. They also visit the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, which features one of the world’s most significant displays of cow paintings and a mummified Egyptian cat.

  • Distance from London: 1 hour by train, from St Pancras International, and around 1 hour 30 minutes by car.

30-33 High Street, Canterbury, CT1 2RX

Cambridge is quieter, smaller, and lovelier than Oxford. A visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum is a good way to start someone's trip, followed by a nibble at Fitzbillies. They make sure to buy a box of the sticky Chelsea buns to take home and spend a couple of hours strolling around King’s Chapel before taking to the river for a place of punting . Come teatime, they head for Grantchester and have dinner in The Orchard Tea Gardens, just like the poet Rupert Brooke.

  • Distance from London: 45 minutes by train, from King’s Cross, 1 hour 20 minutes from Liverpool Street, and around 2 hours by car.

15-19 Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1QA

Great British Bucket List

13 BEST Day Trips from London by Train

From the roman city of bath to the wilds of the new forest, there are so many amazing day trips from london by train to discover.

day trips from london by train

Honestly, when I’m in London, I am 100% not using a car. Whether it’s riding on the Tube, hailing a taxi, or just wandering around the city centre, driving is not something I’m likely to do.

So, when I want to get outside of the city for the day, I rely on the train. Over the years, I’ve compiled a list of the best day trips from London by train. Maybe you want to hit the beach? Perhaps you want to dive into history? Or maybe you want to check out a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Within a couple of hours’ ride from London, you can do all of that!

Some of my favourite train trips from London include heading into the picturesque Cotswolds regions, hiking the Seven Sisters near Dover, and even casting a spell or two at the Harry Potter Studio Tour.

london day trips by train

The best part? You can hop on a train, enjoy the scenic journey through the English countryside, and be back in London in time for a West End show or a late-night stroll along the Thames. The accessibility of these day trips is what makes them truly special—it’s like having a variety of mini adventures right at your doorstep.

So, with that in mind, let’s check out the best train trips from London. Hopefully this blog post will help you with planning your next day trip.

Day trips from London by train

Hampton court palace.

hampton court

Looking to check out the palace where King Henry VIII used to reign supreme? This London day trip favourite is always popular with history buffs visiting the capital thanks to the beautiful architecture, art, and knowledgeable guides. It’s also a super easy train ride from the centre of London. 

In fact, it’s just a 45-minute ride from London Waterloo Station directly to Hampton Court Palace train station and from there, it’s only around a five-minute walk to the palace gates. Day trips from London by train don’t come much easier than this!

If you’re heading to Hampton Court, you can pick up your tickets here beforehand.

Harry Potter Studio Tours

harry potter studio tour

Want to experience the magic in front of and behind the camera? Well then, a visit to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford is a must. Filled with memorabilia, props, sets, and costumes from the films, it’s every fan’s dream. 

To get to the studios, you’ll journey for about 20 minutes from London Euston Station to Watford Junction, and then jump on the 15-minute shuttle to the studio. The bonus is that the shuttle is actually designed like the famous Knight Bus, so the experience starts before you even arrive. All aboard!

Roman Baths, Bath

This legendary Roman city is a beautiful train trip from London as it’s only 90 minutes from London Paddington Station. Home to the Roman Baths UNESCO World Heritage Site, stunning architecture, and the home of the iconic author, Jane Austen, there’s certainly a little something for everyone on a day trip to Bath.

You can easily spend a full weekend here, but with the regular train routes back to the capital that run relatively late, you can definitely enjoy a full day running around this historic city.

The Seven Sisters

seven sisters from london

As one of the UK’s most iconic sights, the Seven Sisters white chalky cliffs near Dover are an easy train trip from London. You can travel from London Victoria Station and get off at Eastbourne, allowing you to wander along the coastline and see the Seven Sisters in all their glory. 

Trains to Eastbourne take around an hour and 25 minutes from London, and then you can enjoy a stunning coastal hike to your final destination!

Windsor Castle

day trips from london by train 1 hour

Love royal history or are you just a fan of insanely old castles? Well, Windsor Castle is one of the King’s royal residences and is over 900 years old. This impressive palace has played host to royal weddings, including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s.

Windsor Castle is super popular at pretty much any time of the year, so I definitely recommend getting your tickets in advance . This will also let you know when the royal family are in residence, as you might not be able to access the full castle and grounds. Travel-wise, Windsor Castle is around an hour from London Waterloo station. 

day trip to bristol from london

If you’re looking to check out another bustling city, journey between one and a half to two hours from London Paddington Station to Bristol. Home to the impressive Clifton Suspension Bridge, a bustling independent food and drink scene, and a fun and thriving waterfront, Bristol is an ideal day trip from London by train. 

Make sure you take time to check out all the street art around the city, after all, the city is the hometown of famous artist, Banksy!

Leeds Castle

visiting leeds castle

This next train trip from London is a little more complicated to get to, but if you’re visiting Kent, you can’t leave without checking out Leeds Castle . Get the 50-minute train from London Bridge to Maidstone and then jump on a short 20-minute bus ride to the gates of Leeds Castle.

With a super cool hedge maze, museum, lake, and more, this Norman Castle is a popular day trip for a good reason. Again, I’d recommend booking your ticket in advance , especially during the school holidays.   

Brighton promenade

Looking for a fun day at the seaside? Well, you’ll be hard-pushed to find a better day trip than Brighton . Located on the south coast around an hour from either London Victoria Station or London Bridge Station, Brighton is always bustling with things to do.

From the opulent and historic Brighton Palace Pier to the popular waterfront and beach to the dozens of independent boutiques and restaurants, you’re really spoiled for choice here!

Warwick Castle

warwick castle

If you’re looking for a train trip from London that’s a little further north, jump on the train to Warwick Castle. You can get a one hour and 45-minute train from London Marylebone to Warwick and then walk to the castle gates.

With the original parts of the castle stemming back to 1068, Warwick Castle has seen a lot of bloody battles, royalty, and history along the way. Nowadays, you can experience archery, falconry shows, renactments of medieval battles, and many more. It’s the perfect family-friendly day trip, but again, book way in advance !

day trip to oxford from london

As one of the academic heartlands of England, Oxford is a beautiful and architecturally stunning city to visit. Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan who wants to visit the real Great Hall or you’re in love with the His Dark Materials series, Oxford has inspired a lot of writers and academics over the years.

Oxford is actually really easy to get to on a day trip from London by train. Depending on which is closer or more convenient, you can get a train from either from Marylebone Station or Paddington Station, and both routes are around an hour. 

The New Forest

new forest in autumn

Need to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and get back to the nature? Well, a day trip to the New Forest is going to be right up your street. You can get a 90-minute train from London Waterloo station to Brockenhurst, in the heart of the New Forest.

With tons of wildlife, walking routes, and museums in the area, you can easily have a fun-filled day surrounded by tranquil greenery.  Keep in mind that the National Park is huge and spreads all the way down to the coastline, so make a plan of the areas you want to visit first!

scenic train rides from london

When you think of quintessential English towns and villages, the image that comes up is probably of the Cotswolds . Located just an hour and 40 minutes from London Paddington Station, the Cotswolds is the perfect quaint escape from the city. With chocolate box cottages, hiking and walking routes and plenty of cosy pubs to warm up in, it’s an amazing day out for the whole family.

In fact, the Cotswolds is actually an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so you might want to bring your camera with you! It’s also rumoured that parts of the Cotswolds inspired J.R.R Tolkien when he was writing The Lord of the Rings!

Stratford-Upon-Avon

stratford upon avon

If you’re a literature lover then you have to carve out time in your itinerary to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon. This small town in the Midlands is known for basically one thing and that’s being the home of the iconic playwright, William Shakespeare.

Located around two and a half hours from London Marylebone Station, Stratford-Upon-Avon is home to the Royal Shakespeare Company who perform works of the Bard all year round. It’s a prestigious theatre and has featured actors like Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, and David Tennant to name just a few! Check out the RSC website ahead of time to find out what’s on while you’re in the area!

So, there you have it, the 13 best day trips from London by train. Where are your favourite day trips from London without a car? Let me know in the comments below!

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13 BEST Day Trips from London by Train

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The 18 Best Day Trips from London in 2024

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Kristoffer Fons

March 20, 2024

day trips from london

Why not take a day trip from London and explore the beauty of its surroundings? From charming seaside towns to historic castles and vibrant cities, you’re sure to find something that suits your taste.

In this post, I’ll look at some of the best day trips from London that tourists should try.

Whether you want a relaxing break away from the hustle and bustle of city life or an adventure packed with activities, I’ve got something for everyone

Let’s begin our journey.

1. Windsor, Stonehenge & Oxford Tour

2. harry potter studios ⚡️, 3. blenheim palace and the cotswolds, 4. the best of kent – canterbury cathedral & dover, 5. trip to the famous white cliffs of dover, 6. downtown abbey day trip from london, 7. half-day trip from london to stonehenge, 8. the seven sisters in sussex, 9. day trip to paris with lunch at the eiffel tower 🇫🇷, 10. shakespeare’s stratford & cotswolds, 11. visit bicester village for luxury shopping 👛, 12. the beatles trip to liverpool 🎸, 13. best of cambridge, 14. bath, avebury & lacock village, 15. lake district – england’s most beautiful nature, 16. glastonbury and cheddar gorge, 17. edinburgh by train 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿, 18. isle of wight 🏝️.

stonehenge day trip from london

Visit the picture-perfect town of Windsor and explore the world-famous Stonehenge and Oxford on an action-packed day trip from London.

Experience the beautiful English countryside, get to know the history behind some of England’s most famous landmarks, and even have time for shopping or sightseeing.

The tour starts with a visit to Windsor , a charming market town full of character home to the world’s largest inhabited castle – Windsor Castle . Enjoy a guided walking tour of the city and learn about its 600-year-old history.

Visit sites like St George’s Chapel, see where Her Majesty The Queen lives during weekends, or relax in one of the many quaint cafes and pubs that line the streets.

From there, continue onto Stonehenge – an ancient monument built about 5,000 years ago that still fascinates visitors today. Listen as your guide explains how it was constructed and learn about their theories regarding its purpose.

oxford

Next is Oxford – one of Britain’s oldest cities renowned for being a centre of education with beautiful University College buildings at each turn. Take a leisurely walk around this city filled with architectural wonders before returning to London.

On this unforgettable full-day tour from London, you will discover some of England’s most iconic historical sites in style.

With plenty of free time to explore on your own, shop or take photos along the way – you’ll be sure to get plenty out of your journey.

Read more about the day trip here .

harry potter world

If you’re looking for a fun-filled day trip from London, then the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter ( Harry Potter World ) could be just the ticket.

Located in Leavesden, Hertfordshire, this unique experience is guaranteed to transport you into the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

First off, you’ll get to explore the very sets and props used in the movies themselves. Take a walk down Diagon Alley, or observe real-life Quidditch matches.

You’ll learn all about how these iconic scenes were created with state-of-the-art special effects techniques, as well as hearing some behind-the-scenes secrets from the cast and crew members who worked on them.

The tour also features an impressive collection of detailed costumes and props straight out of Hogwarts – including Harry’s wand! If you’re a fan of the franchise, then this is a must-see experience – it’s like taking a step inside JK Rowling’s magical universe.

harry potter london

There are also plenty of interactive activities available at the Harry Potter World.

Visitors can try their hand at creating illusions with Animatronics Modeling or witness famous broomstick trickery for themselves by taking part in an exclusive action workshop.

For those seeking an even more immersive experience, there are also options to explore one of four film locations with exclusive access either through a guided tour or a self-exploration route.

Plus, there’s plenty more to see and do – making your visit to Harry Potter Studio Tour educational and entertaining.

Read more about the trip to Harry Potter Studios here .

Please read our complete guide to the Harry Potter World in London .

day trips london nature

Explore the beautiful Cotswolds and visit the historic Blenheim Palace on a full day excursion from London.

Enjoy a delicious pub lunch in one of the region’s quaint villages before taking a tour of Blenheim and its grounds.

Your journey will start with an early morning coach ride to the Cotswolds , an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty ( AONB ).

You can admire stunning English countryside scenery as you pass through quaint villages with charming thatched cottages and rolling hills.

Next, you’ll be invited to experience a traditional pub lunch at one of the Cotswolds’ iconic pubs. Take some time to sample a pint or two from the local brewery and soak up some of the region’s unique atmosphere.

Afterwards, it’s time for your visit to Blenheim Palace – home of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.

Stroll around the magnificent Baroque palace surrounded by 2,000 acres of landscaped parkland where deer roam freely!

Get ready for a big dose of history as your expert guide takes you through its impressive state rooms, ballroom and chapel – each painted in exquisite 18th century ornamentation.

cotswolds nature

Relax as you travel back to London after an unforgettable day out in England’s beautiful Cotswolds countryside.

Whether it’s culture you crave or simple relaxation – there’s something for everyone during this amazing full day excursion.

You can read more about the day trip here .

dover

See the best of Kent on a day trip from London to Leeds castle, Canterbury Cathedral and Dover.

Enjoy an exclusive private showing of Leeds Castle before heading to Canterbury Cathedral for a guided tour and some free time exploring.

Finish the day with a visit to Dover and take in some of England’s most stunning coastal views.

Start your journey with a visit to Leeds Castle in Kent (not in the actual city of Leeds in Yorkshire) which has been used as a palace, stronghold and home throughout its 900-year history.

leeds castle in kent

With its 500 acres of beautiful parkland, lake and gardens it is one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain.

Get ready for an exclusive private viewing of the castle before being dropped off at lunchtime.

Next is Canterbury Cathedral – perhaps one of England’s best known landmarks due to its mention in Chaucer’s Tales Of The Canterbury Pilgrims.

Take a guided tour of this stunning Norman cathedral and marvel at its architecture, stained glass windows and crypt.

You will then have enough free time to explore on your own or take part in special activities like ringing the bells.

Finish the day off with a scenic drive along the coast stopping by Dover for amazing views over the English Channel.

Don’t forget your camera – you won’t want to miss out on capturing these incredible vistas.

On this full day tour from London you’ll get to experience some of England’s most iconic landmarks while soaking up true culture and history in style!

Read more about the trip here .

After your day trip from London, check out my extensive guide on the best things to do in London .

white cliffs of dover

Discover the stunning White Cliffs of Dover and explore its historical city centre on a day trip from London.

See the iconic cliffs, visit Canterbury – one of England’s oldest cities, walk along the picturesque beach and enjoy a two-course lunch in a traditional pub.

Begin your tour with a 3-hour coach ride to Dover, where you can admire the spectacular views of the English countryside as you head down south.

On arrival in Dover, prepare for an awe-inspiring view from the cliffs .

Capture some fantastic photos of this striking landscape before taking some time to explore the area.

Continue onto Canterbury, where you can wander around its cobblestoned streets full of independent stores, cafes and restaurants.

Plus, no tour to Canterbury would be complete without visiting its famous cathedral – considered one of England’s finest Norman structures and takes you back over 1,400 years in history.

canterbury

After a busy morning exploring, stop for a delicious two-course lunch at a traditional pub nearby – perfect for recharging your batteries before heading to neighbouring Whitstable.

Stop by this famous seaside town with picturesque beaches and a colourful harbour where you can take some more beautiful photos while having free time to explore independently or relax on the beach before starting your journey back to London.

Enjoy a memorable day out discovering England’s south coast, including its breathtaking White Cliffs of Dover – an experience not to be missed.

Read more about this day trip here .

downtown abbey day trip from london

Enjoy a day out of London with a visit to the real-life set of the world-famous drama series Downton Abbey.

Follow in the footsteps of the Crawley family and explore village life on a full-day tour from London.

Visit Highclere Castle – home to the Crawleys, learn more about their story through an experienced guide and wander around the quaint village of Bampton.

Depart from central London and take an hour-long journey to the actual location of Downton Abbey – Highclere Castle .

Enjoy beautiful views over this Victorian mansion and learn more about its history during your guided tour inside.

Feel like Lord Grantham as you pass by period furniture, grand paintings and stately rooms!

downtown abbey tour

Continue your tour with a visit to Bampton village – nearby Hills & Holes, which was used for filming scenes for Downton Abbey.

Take a stroll along its streets admiring traditional cottages and churches, explore St Mary’s Church where Lady Mary’s wedding took place – recreated at Ely Cathedral in season 3 – or sit back, relax and enjoy some free time exploring independently before beginning your journey back to London.

This 8-hour coach trip is perfect for all fans of the popular show Downton Abbey who have ever dreamt of visiting its iconic sets.

See why it is one television’s most successful shows while taking memorable photos along the way!

Read more about the Downtown Abbey day trip from London here .

stonehenge half day tour from london

Step back in time and embark on a 4-hour journey from London to Stonehenge – one of the world’s oldest and most mysterious monuments.

Experience the mystic atmosphere of this UNESCO World Heritage site, admire its unique stone circles and enjoy an audio guide as you make your way around the site.

Plus, with your entrance ticket included , you can save time at the gate.

Begin your tour with a comfortable coach ride out of London towards the Wiltshire countryside.

Admire stunning views over rolling hills and farming land as you reach Stonehenge – one of England’s top attractions.

On arrival, explore below and above ground while listening to interesting comments on an audio guide.

Discover why it was built and its significance through time thanks to intriguing facts about life in prehistoric times.

Listen to fun stories about the druids and try to guess who left their mark at Stonehenge taking some fantastic photos along the way.

Afterwards, head back to London with plenty of unforgettable memories from this historical monument that dates back more than 5 millennia ago.

Read more about the half-day trip from London to Stonehenge .

Check out this guide with tips on visiting Stonehenge .

seven sisters

Enjoy a full-day tour filled with breathtaking views and coastal delights.

Explore nature’s beauty of the South Downs National Park and Seven Sisters Country Park on a comfortable coach from London.

Admire white cliffs, rolling hills, lush woodlands, quirky villages and pristine beaches – ideal for fabulous photos.

Depart London and let yourself relax in an air conditioned coach as you make your way to the beautiful countryside of Sussex.

Get ready to admire amazing views over South Downs National Park’s rolling hills while learning interesting facts about the area from audio guide commentary.

Pass through picturesque villages such as Alfriston or Seaford with their charming churches, traditional pubs and tea rooms – ideal for free time to explore independently.

English countryside

You can continue towards Beachy Head – a stunning chalk headland boasting spectacular views over the Channel Sea.

Make sure not to miss Birling Gap – an old smuggling village – where you can enjoy a delicious picnic lunch before heading towards Seven Sisters County Park.

On arrival, take a stroll along clifftops admiring its distinctive rugged beauty before returning back to London filled with memorable moments from this amazing tour.

You can read more about the day trip from London here .

eiffel tower paris

Yes, you can go from London to Paris on a day trip 😀

Experience the magic of Paris in one day with an exclusive tour that includes a delicious 3-course champagne lunch at the Eiffel Tower.

Embark on a luxurious train ride from London and enjoy air-conditioned comfort as you make your way to the City of Lights.

eurostar train to paris

Enjoy yourself while listening to audio guide commentary on Paris’ rich history, culture and architecture as you travel.

On arrival, admire breathtaking views over this iconic city from the top of Montparnasse Tower before soaking up La Ville Lumière’s beauty with a guided walking tour that stops at all the must-see sights such as Palais Garnier Opera House or Notre Dame Cathedral.

Indulge in gourmet cuisine like a true Parisian with a 3-course lunch accompanied by Champagne at the famous Jules Verne Restaurant atop the iconic Eiffel Tower .

Spend some free time admiring 360° views over Paris before heading back to London, saying au revoir until next time.

Read more about the day trip from London to Paris here .

If you want to know more about Paris, I’ve also got another travel blog called Destination Well Known, where I’ve written about the best things to do in Paris .

cotswolds

Escape the hustle and bustle of London for a day and experience a journey full of fascinating sights, hidden corners and delicious food.

Board an air-conditioned coach from London and enjoy comfort as you make your way to Stratford-upon-Avon – the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

Let yourself get lost in this incredible town’s charming streets while learning interesting facts about William Shakespeare’s life from audio guide commentary.

stratford upon aven

Visit Anne Hathaway’s Cottage – the childhood home of William Shakespeare’s wife – before indulging in a delicious lunch at The Fleece Inn.

Continue on your way through the beautiful Cotswolds countryside with its rolling hills, typical villages and lively market towns such as Stow-on-the-Wold or Warwick – perfect for some free time exploring independently.

Finally, discover one of England’s most beautiful country houses – Charlecote Park that attracts visitors from all over the world.

Return back to London after an amazing day filled with unforgettable moments.

Get more info about the trip here .

train ride from london

Get ready to experience a day of shopping luxury.

Travel from London by train to one of the world’s leading shopping destinations — Bicester Village .

Upon arrival, you’ll be welcomed by a village ambassador to get you acquainted with this incredible shopping haven full of designer boutiques and outlet stores offering up to 60% discount prices on European and American fashion brands.

Enjoy free time exploring the chic shop-lined streets, wander through the alleys and find yourself among the most sought-after luxury labels such as Prada and Chloé or perhaps a timeless souvenir like charming English tableware.

bicester village

Let yourself be spoiled with refreshing snacks, coffee & more at one of the many cafes within Bicester Village before taking a break in its beautiful gardens full of colourful blooming flowers.

At the end of your shopping spree, return back to London by train after an unforgettable experience perfect for any fashionista.

Read more about the trip and get tickets here .

the beatles day trip from london

Step into The Beatles’ shoes and discover Liverpool’s iconic sights on a day trip from London.

Travel to this city in style while listening to some of The Beatles’ greatest hits — the perfect way to inspire you for your tour.

Start off your day at The Beatles Story Museum located in the very heart of Liverpool where an audio guide narrated by John Lennon’s sister Julia will take you through over nine interactive galleries full of fascinating memorabilia.

Then, have a speedboat ride across the River Mersey, just like the one that The Beatles took when they landed back in 1964.

liverpool

Walk through Mathew Street along cobbled streets filled with history and vibrant music venues before visiting Penny Lane — home of Saint Barnabas Church, The Shelter Hall and Lennon’s childhood abode known as Mendips.

I’ve been to Liverpool quite a few times and visited to Beatles Story Museum as well and I’ve got to say that it’s one of the best things to do in England as a music fan.

See more about the Beatles day trip from London to Liverpool here .

If you’re spending more time in the North West of England, I’d also recommend visiting Chester where you’ve got a lot of interesting things to do without as many tourists.

cambridge

Get ready to explore one of the world’s most famous university towns known for its stunning architecture, proud history, and vibrant culture.

Find yourself wandering through King’s College Chapel where you’ll admire over 500 years of history in its stunning interiors.

Make sure to stop by Fitzwilliam Museum, the second-largest museum in England, where you can enjoy sculptures from ancient Egypt or masterpieces from Monet.

Take a peaceful stroll along the Cam River or relax in one of its many beautiful parks like Christ College Meadow.

Cam River in Cambridge

Learn about Cambridge’s rich history with visits to punting boats along the water gardens; taste traditional English scones at afternoon tea in one of Cambridge’s iconic colleges; immerse yourself in Cambridgeshire culture with a visit to spectacular Great St Mary’s Church – there is something for everyone.

At the end of your day, return to London feeling refreshed and energized.

Read more about the best of Cambridge day trip here .

bath

Get ready to explore some of the most picturesque sights in England on a full-day tour from London.

Take a journey back in time while visiting medieval stone circles, elegant manor houses and quaint villages.

Your first stop is the beautiful Bath , with its impressive architecture and hot springs, which were used by the Romans two thousand years ago.

avebury stone circle

Then you’ll visit Avebury Stone Circle – the largest megalithic stone circle in Britain – where you’ll marvel at its ancient mystery.

You’ll also see Lacock Village, with its unique cobbled streets and traditional cottages.

Don’t forget to admire the historical Lacock Abbey, which has been featured as part of Hogwarts school in Harry Potter movies.

On your last stop of the day, experience a taste of relaxing English countryside life at the 13th-century Stourhead House and Gardens.

After a day of exploring these iconic landscapes and breathtaking views, jump back into your comfortable coach for an enjoyable ride back to London.

lake district

Enjoy a full-day trip to some of the most magnificent natural landscapes of Great Britain, packed with wonderful experiences.

Marvel at idyllic lakes, emerald valleys and spectacular mountains on your journey to a land known as Wordsworth’s poetic playground.

Take in the breathtaking views of the beautiful Ullswater lake, the second largest lake in England, and stroll through lush green forests.

Visit charming villages where you’ll get to taste traditional English scones during afternoon tea before heading back to London.

lake district england

On this tour, you’ll also get an exclusive visit to one of the finest gardens in England – Holehird Gardens – and take a ride on Windermere by steamboat for a unique perspective on this incredible landscape.

Get ready for a day filled with exciting activities, beautiful sights and delightful afternoon tea treats.

Read more about the Lake District 1-day trip from London here .

glastonbury tor

Take a journey to one of the most intriguing places in Britain on a full-day trip from London.

Discover mysterious Glastonbury, famous for its legend of King Arthur and the Holy Grail and renowned for its world-renowned music festivals.

visit king arthur's tomb

You’ll also visit Cheddar Gorge – an impressive natural ravine carved by glacial meltwater with towering limestone cliffs and amazing views of the Mendip Hills.

Explore its stunning scenery, including Gough’s Cave which is one of England’s longest caves, and marvel at the Iron Age fort located on the crest of the Gorge.

During your tour, you’ll get an exclusive visit to St Margaret’s Chapel – one of England’s oldest chapels dating back to 1135 – and an opportunity to learn about the Glastonbury Thorn tree, said to have bloomed each Christmas by miracle.

Get ready for an unforgettable day filled with magic, history and beautiful landscapes.

Read more about the daytrip here .

edinburgh

I mentioned earlier that it’s possible to go to Paris on a 1-day trip from London, but how about the Scottish capital of Edinburgh ?

Take a direct train ride from London to Edinburgh, which is a fantastic experience in itself.

Once you arrive, explore this breathtaking capital city with its elegant Georgian terraces, hidden back streets and magnificent architecture.

Visit Edinburgh Castle – a symbol of power for more than 1000 years – marvel at the stunning views from Calton Hill or stroll through Princes Street Gardens.

edinburgh castle

Get exclusive access to areas not normally open to the public on your tour, including the romantic Ross Fountain in Princes Street Gardens or Mary Kings Close – an underground network of alleyways dating back to medieval times.

Get ready for a day full of culture, history, art and spectacular views in Scotland.

Read more about the day trip to Edinburgh here .

I used to live in Edinburgh, so I’d actually recommend that you spend a couple more days in Scotland as it’s honestly one of the best cities in Europe.

On my other travel blog, I’ve written a complete guide to the best things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland , and if you’re on a budget I’d recommend this post that covers a few excellent cheap and free things to do in Edinburgh .

isle of wight

Enjoy a memorable day trip from London to the Isle of Wight – one of the loveliest islands in the UK.

On your journey, you’ll cross the Solent and admire spectacular coastal views.

Once you arrive, explore its stunning natural beauty and fascinating history.

Visit Osborne House, former residence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, see their private beach or visit Carisbrooke Castle – home to Charles I when he was held prisoner by Parliament.

You’ll also get an opportunity to take a guided tour around Newport’s old town and discover its hidden treasures, such as St Thomas’ Church, where Queen Victoria worshipped during her visits to the island – or even ride one of the island’s vintage steam trains.

Get ready for a delightful day full of amazing landscapes, centuries-old monuments and unique activities.

Read more about the day trip to Isle of Wight here .

Going on a day trip from London gives you the perfect opportunity to discover new places and create lasting memories. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure or something in between, there’s something for everyone.

I hope this guide has helped give you insight into the best day trips from London.

The best day trips from London depend on what you’re looking for, but some of the top picks include Brighton, Canterbury, Oxford and Cambridge. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you will want to visit the Harry Potter World .

The most popular destinations are within a few hours’ drive from London, but you can go on day trips to the Lake District, Liverpool, Edinburgh and even Paris, France.

Depending on how much you plan on doing during your day trip from London (number of attractions visited, amount of transportation required etc.) it could be cost-effective compared to staying in the city due to the reduced accommodation costs among other things – however, this will depend upon your individual needs and budget.

There are plenty of hidden gems around London that make great additions to any day trip itinerary, such as Woburn Safari Park just outside Milton Keynes or Cotswold villages like Bibury in Gloucestershire that has been featured in movies like Bridget Jones’ Diary and TV shows like Midsomer Murders.

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33 easy day trips from london by train.

Are you looking for the best day trips from London by train?

Then you’ve come to the right place. I’m a Londoner born and bred and am excited to share my favourite places to visit from London by train.

Whether you want to breathe in a lungful of sea air or explore more of England’s history, here are some fabulous London day trips by train.

the castle-like tower bridge in london

Some articles on this website contain affiliate links. This means that I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases . Read the full disclosure here .

IN THIS ARTICLE

Best Day Trips Within a 1 Hour Train Journey from London

Are you looking for the best short trips from London by train? Here is my pick of the best destinations that are less than an hour from London.

1. Cambridge

  • Fastest journey time: 50 minutes via Great Northern
  • From London Kings Cross

college buildings in cambridge around a grass quadrangle

Cambridge may be best known as home to the famous university, but it has much more to offer. And as the train ride from London to Cambridge is under 1 hour, and many of the main attractions are within walking distance of the train station, it is one of the easiest day trips from London by train.

Cambridge University was founded in 1209 and has 31 colleges. It’s the second oldest university in the English-speaking world.

Try to visit at least one college if you can. Better still, join a walking tour of the colleges led by a former student. My favourites are King’s College, St. John’s, and Trinity College.  

King’s College Chapel  has some of the most beautiful stained glass you will ever see. At  Trinity College , don’t miss the  Wren Library , designed by Christopher Wren, who also designed St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Additionally, the University has eight museums that are free and open to the public. 

My favourites are the  Fitzwilliam  and the  Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology . The Fitzwilliam reminds me of a smaller version of the British Museum in London because it has a diverse collection.

If the weather behaves during your  day trip to Cambridge , try  punting on the Cam River .

Punting uses a boat similar to a gondola, where you stand on the back to paddle, but you use a pole instead of an oar. If you’re not brave enough to try it on your own, you can hire someone else to do the punting or go on a punting tour through the lovely area known as  The Backs .

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK A CAMBRIDGE PUNTING TOUR

By Anisa of Two Traveling Texans

  • Fastest journey time: 50 minutes via Great Western Railway
  • From London Paddington

aerial view of spires and domes of oxford university

An  Oxford day trip  from London is perfect for history and literature buffs.

Oxford is best known for the  university  that shares its name.

Walk in the footsteps of greats like  C. S. Lewis  and  J. R. R. Tolkien and start your day by exploring Oxford’s colleges. You’ll be able to see where masterworks like Alice in Wonderland were written and the inspiration for the Narnia books, not to mention some of the Harry Potter film locations.

Its landmarks include the  Bridge of Sigh s and  Radcliff Camera . Once you’ve had your fill of the colleges there’s still plenty left to do.

Oxford is home to a number of first-rate museums like the  Natural History Museum , the  Ashmolean  and the  Pitt Rivers Museum,  which is unique in that it catalogues its items by item type as opposed to age or geography.

Make sure to stop by the  Oxford Covered Market  for some local goods, and to climb to the top of the  University Church of St Mary the Virgin  for a panoramic view of Oxford.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK AN OXFORD UNIVERSITY & CITY WALKING TOUR

By Liliane of My Toronto, My World

3. St. Albans

  • Fastest journey time: 20 minutes via Thameslink
  • From London St. Pancras International

panoramic view of rooftops and cathedral in st albans hertfordshire

If you are looking for a historic day trip outside London, visit  St Albans , a charming city located northwest of London. It’s less than 20 minutes by train from London.

Its crown jewel is St. Albans Cathedral , a architectural marvel with a rich a history spanning over a thousand years. Beyond the cathedral, there are many beautiful medieval buildings, cute cafes and a market, where you can buy local homemade produce.

Verulamium is situated in Verulamium Park, close to the city centre. Albans. These well-preserved Roman ruins include the city walls, hypocaust (underfloor heating system), mosaics and the Roman theatre.

If you have a bit more time, before going back to London, visit Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, the  oldest pub in Great Britain . A very British way to finish your day out.

By Darek of DarekandGosia

4. Colchester

  • Fastest journey time: 45 minutes via Greater Anglia
  • From London Liverpool St.

norman castle with union flag

Colchester is another excellent day trip from London by train for history buffs.

This is England’s oldest recorded town and is the site of the  only Roman circus in England . It is home to a host of other Roman remains, including one of the most intact Roman walls in the country. There’s even a pub (the Hole in the Wall) built into part of it!

Colchester Castle ‘s keep dates from 1076, but the dungeons of the castle contain the foundations of the Roman temple of Claudius.

The museum here is well worth a visit as it contains a number of key finds, including a Roman treasure hoard that was excavated during renovations of a department store on the high street. There’s also an 11 th  Century Augustine priory,  St Botolphs , that is free to visit.

There are several  free walking tours to take in Colchester . All of these are downloadable with maps; some have audio guides.

When you’re ready for a break you should head to the  Tiptree Jam Tea Room . Tiptree Jam is local to Colchester but is famous the world over.

By Sarah of ASocialNomad

5. Hampton Court

  • Fastest direct journey time: 35 minutes via South Western Railway
  • From London Waterloo

large statue overlooking wide red brick exterior of hampton court palace

Hampton Court is one of  the great buildings of England . Most people visit to look around the palace of  King Henry VIII , the most notorious English monarch of all, who had a penchant for chopping off his spouses’ heads. But this is only the half of it.

Henry’s palace is magnificent, one of the high points of Tudor architecture. This was among the very last Gothic buildings in England, and the  Great Hall  is hugely impressive.

It’s also possible to look around the  State Apartments  and  Haunted Gallery , where Catherine Howard’s ghost is said to run screaming for mercy, knowing that execution was likely to be her fate.

Hampton Court has a superb  Baroque palace and gardens , added by King William III and Mary who reigned from 1689 to 1702. This is one of the finest Baroque buildings in England, along with the likes of St Paul’s Cathedral in the centre of London.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR FAST-TRACK TICKET

By David of Delve Into Europe

6. Harry Potter Studios

  • Fastest journey time: 15 minutes to Watford Junction Station via West Midlands Railway and then a shuttle bus to the studio
  • From London Euston

sign saying 9 3/4

Calling all Potterheads! If you are a Muggle craving to discover the world of  Harry Potter in London , take a day trip to the Harry Potter Studios.

Harry Potter was mainly filmed at the Warner Bros Studios in Watford. Hop on a train from Euston or Victoria to Watford Junction. From the station, the Harry Potter shuttle bus will take you straight to the studios.

When you  buy your ticket , you will have to choose a slot. I recommend you book the first one available.

Once you are in the studios, you are free to stay as long as you want so the earlier you get there, the longer you can stay. On average, visitors stay four hours.

You will see many sets such as the dining hall, the Gryffindor common room and the Gringott bank, in addition to many costumes. More importantly, you will discover how the movies were made. Everything from training animals to prosthetic makeup.

There are a couple of restaurants on site. You can even buy butterbeer!

The Warner Bros studios are a truly magical experience (whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not). The best day trip from London by train for all you Muggles out there!

If you want someone to take care of all of the arrangements for you, why not buy your skip-the-line ticket with a transfer from London? Click here to book.

By Pauline of BeeLoved City

7. Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey)

  • Fastest journey time: 40 minutes to Newbury station via Great Western Railway and then a 15-minute taxi ride to Highclere Castle

exterior of a grand stately home on a sunny day

Downton Abbey  fans will delight at the opportunity to visit the famous Highclere Castle where the series was filmed.

The castle was established in 749 and rebuilt in the 17th century when it was purchased by the grandfather of the current Earl of Carnarvon (who still resides there with his wife). Just as in the  Downton Abbey  series, Highclere Castle served as a hospital for wounded soldiers during World War I. During World War II, it was home to evacuees.

Due to popularity,  Highclere Castle entrance tickets  can be challenging to secure so be sure to book well ahead if you’re visiting independently.  Alternatively, plan to spend the night nearby and arrive bright and early for first dibs on tickets.

An easier option is to visit Highclere Castle on an organised day trip  from London as the admission ticket will be included.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR TOUR

By Chris of  Explore Now or Never

8. Rochester

  • Fastest journey time: 40 minutes via Southeastern
  • From London Victoria (services also leave from London St. Pancras International)

rochester castle kent under deep blue sky

Rochester in Kent is one of the easiest places to visit near London by train as well as one of the most rewarding.

The majestic  Rochester Cathedral  is the second oldest medieval church and also the second most visited pilgrimage site in England.

Charles Dickens  lived in nearby Higham and based many of his novels in the area. Stop by the friendly Tourist Information Office and pick up a Charles Dickens trail map for a small fee. Information boards marking key sights on this self-guided walk will also point the way.

Finally, don’t leave town before visiting  Rochester Castle . Although just the carcass of the original building remains, the castle’s 12 th  Century stone tower is reputed to be one of the best-preserved in England and there are great views from the top.

  • Fastest journey time: 30 minutes via Great Western Railway
  • From London Paddington to Windsor & Eton Central (change at Slough)

towers and gateway of windsor castle

As the favourite weekend home of the late Queen Elizabeth II, Windsor is one of the best-known cities in the UK and is one of  Europe’s most stunning palaces .

The city of Windsor was established by  William the Conqueror  in the 11th Century and is home to just under 1,000 residents. Situated just 25 minutes from the capital, this historic town is one of the easiest day trips by train from London.

But there is more to see in Windsor than its castle and  St. George’s Chapel . Explore  Windsor Great Park , the former private royal hunting ground, or Guildhall , where Charles and Camilla wed. There’s St. John the Baptist Church , originally built in the 12th Century and reconstructed in 1810.

Runnymede , where King John sealed the Magna Carta in 1215, is nearby. Cliveden House , a three-story Italianate mansion, just 15 minutes north of Windsor, is where the works of Charles Barry reside.

Finally, there’s the  Royal Windsor Horse Show that is held each May.

If you’re uncertain of what to see or where to go, there are various day tours of both the city and river to give an overall view of the beautiful sites to be found in Windsor.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR SKIP-THE-LINE TICKET

By Erin of  Traveling Thru History

10. Winchester

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour via South Western Railway

interior of nave of cathedral

Visit Winchester for a fun-filled day trip by train from London. Winchester station is roughly a five-minute walk to the town centre (downhill on the way there; ten minutes uphill on the way back!).

This historic city is one of the oldest in the UK and has picturesque cobbled streets, historic buildings and one of the most famous cathedrals in the country.

Some of the best things to do in Winchester include:

  • Winchester Cathedral . Some very famous people are buried here- including Jane Austen. You can also see one of the oldest Bibles in the world
  • Shopping! Winchester has some great shops on and around the high street.
  • Mizmaze . On the outskirts of Winchester is a very old turf maze that you can try and navigate. Well worth a visit if you have time
  • Visit the  Christmas market . If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in November or December, you must go to the  Winchester Christmas Market . There are hundreds of stalls and even an ice rink.

By Kat of Wandering Bird

11. Bletchley Park

  • Fastest journey time: 30 minutes (to Milton Keynes Central) via Avanti West Coast

exterior of large country home of bletchley park

Bletchley Park , the home of the  WWII code breakers , is a fascinating glimpse into the work of these heroes and of the early days of computers. See the iconic code-breaker huts and learn more about the work of  Alan Turing  and his group of code-breakers who cracked the German’s  Enigma code machine , instrumental in winning the war for the British and Allied troops.

The estate comprises some 581 acres and the house on the site contained many WWII secrets whilst pretending to be a luxury getaway for some of Britain’s most brilliant minds. In the house are displays of the rooms just as they were used during the war and it feels like the people just left that day.

You can tour the huts that Turing and the code-breakers used and see how they broke Enigma.

Within the estate is the  National Museum of Computing  where you can try your hand at code-breaking puzzles and explore how computers have changed the world. 

Take a picnic and enjoy the grounds and the small lake where children can feed the ducks. And for adults? You can have a gin and tonic in the sunshine and dance to some retro 1940s or jazz-age music on the lawns in front of the house.

By Faith of XYU And Beyond

12. Canterbury

  • Fastest journey time: 55 minutes (to Canterbury West) via Southeastern
  • From London St Pancras International

old stone buildings and 2 towers by side of river

Travelling from London to Canterbury is certainly not a new idea. Londoners have been making the trip for the past 1,000 years or so, although it wasn’t always possible as a day trip.

Originally,  Christian pilgrims  made the arduous journey on foot to  Canterbury Cathedral , more specifically to the spot inside the Cathedral where  Thomas Becket  was murdered. This popular journey was the inspiration for Chaucer’s  Canterbury Tales , one of the greatest works of English literature.

Nowadays, you can hop on a train in London and be in Canterbury in less than 1 hour. One thing that hasn’t changed much, though, is the imposing Cathedral.

Whilst it is the city’s main attraction, it’s not the only thing to see while you’re in Canterbury.  St. Martin’s Church  and  St. Augustine’s Abbey  are two other historic religious buildings that are also worth a visit.

A good option for lunch is the Lady Luck, which bills itself as a “rock ‘n’ roll pub”. They offer vegan as well as meaty versions of traditional pub grub, so it’s a great choice for  vegan visitors to Canterbury .

By Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan

13. Brighton

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour via the Gatwick Express. However, this is more expensive than the service run by Thameslink which takes 1 hour 10 minutes.
  • From London Victoria, London Blackfriars or London Bridge

people relaxing on brighton beach with pier in background

Brighton, on England’s south coast, is one of the most popular train trips from London.

Home to the UK’s largest Jedi population (!), Brighton is blessed with a broad shingle beach, a cool bohemian air and one extraordinary building.

The  Royal Pavilion  is the opulent Victorian pleasure palace of Prince George, later Prince Regent and then King George IV. Indian on the outside and Chinese on the inside, it is as extravagant and eccentric as its first occupant and seems oddly out of place in an English seaside town. You can grab your skip-the-line ticket here .

Brighton Pier  is a prime example of an Edwardian pier. Take a stroll along its length, fill your face with candy floss and try your luck in one of its amusement arcades.

Finally, Brighton is a first-class shopping destination.  The Lanes  are home to independent shops, including some good antique shops, jewellery shops and boutiques.

14. Epping Forest

longhorn cattle in epping forest

Are you looking for another destination near London to get closer to nature?

Located on the northeastern outskirts of London,  Epping Forest  is a fabulous walking destination at any time of year. However, it is at its best in autumn when its plants and trees are transformed into multi-colour works of art.

Whether you’re looking for a gentle stroll or something more vigorous, Epping Forest’s 8,000 acres offer a dizzying choice of  walking trails , nine of which are waymarked circular trails. These range in distance between 1.25 and 6.6 miles, and most start close to parking and train stations.

To reach these  ancient woodlands  take the Overground train from Liverpool Street to Chingford or London Underground’s Central Line to Chigwell, Roding Valley, Buckhurst Hill, Loughton, Debden, Theydon Bois or Epping.

READ THIS NEXT: Easy Epping Forest Walks

15. Mayfield Lavender Farm

lavender field against blue sky with a few clouds

On the outskirts of the capital lies South London’s purple paradise.

Instagram heaven, Mayfield Lavender Farm is a full-blown assault on the senses but in a good way. Wander through a sprawling field of purple flowers, the air perfumed with the soporific scent of lavender.

If you are feeling peckish, treat yourself to a lavender-themed afternoon tea overlooking a sea of purple.

Thirsty? This is your opportunity to sample lavender cider.

For a tasteful gift, pick up homemade lavender products, including soaps and jams, at the gift shop.

Lavender blooming season runs from June through to late August, with peak bloom around mid-July. Check  Mayfield Lavender ’s website for flower updates and opening hours.

To reach Mayfield Lavender Farm, take a train from London Victoria to West Croydon and then hop on the 166 bus to the farm. A note of caution though; this route can get very busy at weekends (I walked back one stop to make sure I was able to board the bus).

Alternatively, catch a train from London Victoria to Sutton or Cheam and then take a cab/minicab to the farm (this is the fastest route but more expensive).

More Easy Day Trips from London by Train

Whether you are looking for a day at the seaside or want to explore one of England’s cool cities, here are some more fabulous places near London. Many of my favourites are here, including Rye, Liverpool (also a fabulous weekend break) and lovely Brockenhurst in the New Forest.

Most of these destinations are within two hours of London by train.

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour 15 minutes via Great Western Railway

stone buildings and a covered bridge over a river with a weir and boat in bath england

Bath is one of the most charming cities in England, filled with beautiful architecture, ancient buildings, culture and interesting places to eat and drink. Once you arrive at Bath Spa station you are only a five-minute walk from the centre of Bath itself.

This UNESCO -listed city is filled with beautiful  Georgian buildings  made of pale golden limestone. They blend perfectly with the  Roman Baths and Temple , which are a must-see.

As the queues can be long, it is better to book ahead. You can choose to join a free walking guide around the baths or go at your own pace with an audioguide. For a treat, visit the  Pump Rooms  next door for a bite to eat.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR SKIP-THE-LINE TICKET WITH WALKING TOUR

Right next to the Roman Baths is  Bath Abbey , an imposing Gothic building that towers over the city. You can take a guided tour that includes the 212-step climb to the roof to take in the view.

Pultney Bridge and views over the River Avon are a short walk from the Abbey. The bridge has quaint shops and restaurants on top of its three arches.

For an afternoon treat, head to Sally Lunns Buns for one of their delicious cinnamon buns and a look around the living museum. Other museums are the  Holbourne Museum  in Great Pultney Street or the Fashion Museum in the Assembly Rooms on Bennett Street.

If you want to combine Bath with a visit to Stonehenge and Windsor, take a look at this excellent day tour that bundles them into one neat package.

By Larch of  The Silver Nomad

17. Bristol

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour 30 minutes via Great Western Railway

street art of girl on swing holding two red baloons

Sitting in Castle Park on a Monday morning, sipping coffee in a boutique café and watching commuters go about their unhurried business with a smile on their face, you can’t help but feel the harmony of Bristol.

For the consumer, you can shop at  Cabot Circus  which is also home to a good range of chain restaurants. You can walk in the parks, explore Queen’s Square and maybe grab a cider at one of the boat pubs.

There are the  renovated docks  and the  M Shed museum . Walking down the river, you can visit the famous SS Great Britain ship. Those who enjoy religious places should see the  Bristol Cathedral  or  St Mary Redcliffe .

Or you can climb the steps of Cabot Tower, perched at the top of Brandon Hill for views over Bristol. Slightly further out is the  Clifton Suspension Bridge  and the Observatory nearby. Or head out to the Ashton Court Estate.

The family will enjoy the  Bristol Zoo Gardens or the Aquarium down by the docks.

By Dave of  Dave Chant

  • Fastest journey time: 2 hours 10 minutes via London North Eastern Railway

red brick buildings lining river in leeds

Spend  a day in Leeds  to understand why people rave about this city.

The train station is right in the city centre. But if you’re looking to explore the suburbs, the bus system is cheap and easy to navigate.

Situated in West Yorkshire in the north of England, a huge draw for visitors to Leeds is the huge amount of  vintage shopping  you can do. From kilogram sales to the numerous vintage, second hand and thrift stores in the city, you’ll struggle to come away empty-handed, and all for way less than you’d pay in London.

If you’re in the mood for some culture, you won’t have to look far.  Kirkstall Abbey , the ruins of a monastery founded in 1152, is fascinating and free to explore. The  Royal Armouries Museum , which displays the national collection of arms and armour, is one of the top things to do in Leeds and could keep you occupied for hours.

By Ella of Many More Maps

Say overnight in Leeds to see more of the city and to explore the surrounding area. For a centrally-located budget choice, check in to Premier Inn Leeds City Centre .

19. Liverpool

  • Fastest journey time: 2 hours 20 minutes via Avanti West Coast

iron statue of the beatles in liverpool england

With its rich maritime heritage, striking architecture and buzzy cultural scene, there are more than a few reasons to visit Liverpool . And let’s not forget the stamp that the Fab Four have left on the city.

But did you know that it’s a breeze to visit Liverpool on a day trip from London?

Hop on a train at London Euston station, and two and a half hours later you’ll find yourself on the steps of Lime Street station. And as Liverpool is compact, it’s easy to explore on foot.

Make your way to the buzzy Albert Dock with its restaurants, bars and cultural attractions, including Tate Liverpool (the sister museum to the London Tate Galleries ) and the superb International Slavery Museum . If you want to pay homage to Liverpool’s favourite sons, pop into The Beatles Story , the award-winning museum that charts John, Paul, George and Ringo’s rise to global superstardom.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR SKIP-THE-LINE TICKET FOR THE BEATLES STORY

Visit nearby Pier Head for The Three Graces, the iconic buildings that define Liverpool’s skyline, and to take your photo with the sculpture of The Beatles.

Finally, for the ultimate view of Liverpool’s waterfront, take a ferry across the Mersey. The easiest way to do this is to join a 50-minute  River Explorer Cruise (book your ticket here )

READ THIS NEXT: 13 Reasons to Spend a Weekend in Liverpool: The Best Things to Do

20. Manchester

  • Fastest journey time: 2 hours 10 minutes via Avanti West Coast

street sign in manchester

Most travellers make a beeline for London without considering Manchester. But with its rich history, vibrant culture and friendly locals, this northern powerhouse is 100% worth the direct train journey from London.

After arriving at the train station, grab one of the free city buses to  Manchester Cathedral , which dates from 700AD.

Next, walk down to  The John Rylands Library , a must-see in Manchester. It is like taking a step into Hogwarts for the day. Go up to the gorgeous Reading Room and be wowed by the glorious Gothic architecture.

Walk across to  Cloud 23 in the Hilton Hotel for sweeping views of the city below, with a pot of tea, a coffee or even an early cocktail.

Before you head back to the train station, don’t miss exploring the  Northern Quarter , Manchester’s hipster neighbourhood. From Arcade game bars to vintage shops, striking street art to even cat cafes, it’s worth a wander.

Finally, stop by  Mackie Mayor , a gorgeous indoor food market. Visit even just to appreciate this stunning building.

By Bisola of  Bis To The World

Read my review of Avanti West Coast First-class to decide whether it’s worth upgrading your journey

21. Norwich

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour 45 minutes via Greater Anglia

exterior of norwich cathedral

Norwich is one of England’s true gems.

Less than two hours by direct train from London, this beautiful city was once more important than the nation’s capital. With winding lanes brimming with independent cafés and shops, museums, historic churches, restaurants serving both traditional and modern food, and dozens of authentic English pubs, there’s no end of  things to do in Norwich .

The city’s  cathedral , with its sprawling grounds and stone walls, is almost nine hundred years old and the second tallest in the country.

Norwich’s  marketplace , sitting just outside the city hall, is even older and visitors still go there to buy goods, foodstuffs and souvenirs. And if you want to be super British, you can grab some fish ’n’ chips – one of the most  iconic British foods  – from the national award-winning  Grosvenor Fish Bar  in Norwich’s Lanes.

By Dagney & Jeremy of Cultura Obscura

22. Shrewsbury

  • Fastest journey time: 2 hours 30 minutes via Avanti West Coast (change trains at Birmingham International)

street of terraced houses in shrewsbury

If you are looking to escape the bustle of London, Shrewsbury provides an idyllic slower-paced destination, filled to the brim with beauty and history. The buildings are so varied in their ornateness and style that they rival the narrow, wonky passageways and steep streets for charm.

Shrewsbury has 660 listed buildings, the oldest of which was constructed in the 15th Century. Older still is  Shrewsbury Castle . Dating back to 1074, this is home to the Shropshire Regimental Museum and is set amongst beautiful grounds.

You can follow a  Charles Darwin trail  or tour and learn about the great man and his early life in the town of his birth. If you’re a fan of the other famous Charles, you can still see a headstone with the name Ebenezer Scrooge in the churchyard of St Chad’s.

To clear your head after these big doses of history and architecture, why not try a walk at  The Quarry ? This 29-acre park offers riverbank walks, regular festivals and events and even a sunken garden called The Dingle, which was masterminded by Blue Peter ’s Percy Thrower.

By Dan of Horo Travel Memories

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour 50 minutes via London North Eastern Railway

gothic exterior of york minster on sunny day

Do you want to immerse yourself in almost 2,000 years of history in just a day? If so, York is the perfect place to do just that.

On arrival at York station, grab a coffee and stroll along the  City Walls . The walls run 3.4km around the old city and are the most complete example of medieval walls in England.

Travel back in time to the age of the Vikings at the  Jorvik Viking Centre.  This world-class centre is also an active archaeological site and is home to interactive displays about Viking life, history, and the importance of York to the Vikings.

Lunchtime. If the sun is out, stop for lunch at any one of the cafes and restaurants along the  River Ouse .

After lunch, amble down York’s most famous laneway –  The Shambles . Fun fact: It was an inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.

This 14th-century laneway is one of the best-preserved medieval streets in the world. From here, wander past Clifford’s Tower, the remains of  York Castle  built by William the Conqueror, and on to York Minster.

York Minster  is simply magnificent. Join a Hidden Minster Tour to explore the areas not open to the public.

Finally, end your day in York by ascending the 275 stairs of the tower to take in the spectacular views of York and beyond.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK A YORK WALKING TOUR

By Melissa of  Meet Me at the Pyramid Stage

24. Stonehenge

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour 20 minutes to Salisbury via South Western Railway , then Stonehenge tour bus from the railway station.

stone circle under a blue sky with a few clouds

Few destinations in England fire the imagination like Stonehenge.

Shrouded in mystery, this iconic megalithic stone circle may have been a Neolithic burial site. Folklore variously attributes Stonehenge to Merlin, the Arthurian wizard, invading Danes or Ancient Romans. Some believe the stone circle has extra-terrestrial origins.

Your first port of call is the site’s Visitor Centre where there is an exhibition. see how our ancient ancestors lived by visiting the reconstructed Neolithic houses next to the centre.

Frequent free shuttle buses make the ten-minute journey from the Visitor Centre to the stones.

As this is one of the UK’s biggest tourist attractions, I recommend booking your timed-entrance ticket in advance. Although entry is free if you are a member of English Heritage or the National Trust, you still need to book your time slot.

Although you can visit Stonehenge independently from London, this is one destination where it may be more time efficient to join a day tour , particularly if you want to also visit Bath, Windsor or Oxford. Here are a few options to consider.

Stonehenge Half-Day Tour

Although Stonehenge is one of the most popular day trips from London, it is not the easiest place to reach by public transport, requiring a train and bus/taxi journey. This half-day tour includes a return transfer and an audio guide.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK

Windsor, Stonehenge and Oxford Tour

Three top destinations are bundled into one neat package here. You can choose to visit the interior of Windsor Castle and will benefit from a live guide.

Stonehenge, Windsor & Bath Tour

This guided full-day tour includes Windsor and Bath in addition to Stonehenge. Admission to the Roman Baths is optional.

25. Dover 

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour 5 minutes to Dover Priory via Southeastern

white cliffs of dover in kent uk

Dover is one of the  best seaside towns in Kent , is rich in English history and is home to some of  Kent’s most popular attractions .

Over three million tourists per year visit both the White Cliffs of Dover and Dover Castle on a day trip from London. Dover is a great escape from the city for the day and is surrounded by the beautiful English countryside.

Once you arrive at Dover Priory Station, make your way to the  White Cliffs of Dover  for a scenic walk on the path that runs along the cliffs. Take in the view over the English Channel from the top of the cliffs; on a clear day, you can see France.

Next up on your day trip is a visit to  Dover Castle , which is conveniently located near the White Cliffs. With a history stretching over 800 years, this is one of Britain’s finest and most important castles. Inside, there are rooms furnished with beautiful medieval decorations and a panoramic view awaits you at the top of the great tower.

You can book your Dover Castle ticket here .

By Ann of The Road is Life

26. Rye and Camber Sands

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour 10 minutes via Southeastern
  • From London St. Pancras International to Rye (change trains at Ashford International)

Dunes at Camber Sands

Spend  a day in Rye and Camber Sands  to sample two fabulous destinations for the price of one.

History buffs will adore the medieval town of  Rye  with its Georgian townhouses and timber-framed Tudor houses. Steep cobbled streets are dotted with haunted inns that will set your imagination on fire. There’s even a castle.

To burn off decadent cake calories consumed in one of the town’s excellent cafes, climb the tower of the 12 th  Century  St Mary’s Church.

Don’t leave Rye before checking out its  shops and galleries . The town has an impressive selection of small independent shops and a handful of galleries displaying work by local artists.

When you have finished exploring Rye, head to  Camber Sands  by taking the signposted National Cycle Network Route 2, a three-mile walk.  Alternatively, jump on bus #102 which runs between Rye from Camber Sands every hour.

With its seven miles of golden sand and rolling dunes, Camber Sands has a beach to rival any in the Caribbean. Paddle in the rock pools, collect seashells or embrace your inner child by building sandcastles. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can try your hand at kitesurfing.

READ THIS NEXT : Rye and Camber Sands Beach: An Easy Day Trip from London

27. Whitstable

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour 20 minutes via Southeastern
  • From London St. Pancras International or London Victoria

red and blue fishing boats in small harbour in whitstable

Whitstable is a charming fishing and harbour town located on the north coast of Kent, southeast of London, and is a super easy day trip from London by train.

Famed for its seafood scene, Whitstable is a great spot for foodies and has many oyster shacks in the harbour. The town also holds a popular two-day  oyster festival  every July, featuring hundreds of food stalls, live music and a parade.

Other  things you can do in Whitstable  include taking a walk along the coast, which is lined with colourful beach huts, or visiting the main high street which is filled with boutique shops, galleries and cafes.

End your day trip with a drink at the  Old Neptune,  which is one of the most popular pubs in town. It is located right on the beach, so you can enjoy a delicious pint of locally brewed beer with a beautiful sea view.

By Caroline of CK Travels

28. Bourton-on-the-Water (The Cotswolds)

  • Fastest journey time: 2 hour s 10 minutes to Moreton-in-Marsh via Great Western Railway (change at Charlbury) for local bus #801 to Bourton-on-the-Water

people walking by river in a pretty town in england

Known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the most  beautiful Cotswolds villages  and a perfect day trip from London by rail.

This quintessential English village is famous for its golden stone buildings and arched bridges. Other than roaming around the quaint streets of the village, the best things to do in a day include exploring the  Cotswold Motoring Museum , the  Birdland Parks and Gardens and the famous  model village.

For the perfect souvenir, visit the Cotswold Perfumery  (you can also take part in one of their fragrance courses).

Finally, if you are feeling peckish, head to one of the many pubs in the village such as the Duke of Wellington, which has a great beer garden.

By Roshni of The Wanderlust Within

Thanks to less-than-stellar bus services, it’s fair to say that visiting the Cotswolds isn’t the easiest day trip from London by public transport. Joining a day tour is an excellent way for you to see a few more beautiful Cotswold villages and you will benefit from the knowledge of a local guide. Take a look at this day tour of the Cotswolds from London, which includes Bourton-on-the-Water.

29. Brockenhurst

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour 30 minutes via South Western Railway

dappled sunlight in a forest grove

Beautiful Brockenhurst is one of the best day trips from London by train for nature lovers. The town is easily reached by train from Waterloo.

The area is famous for its great  cycling  network. You can transport your bikes on the train, but it is also possible to rent bikes next to Brockenhurst train station. You will find several bike-friendly cafes and pubs in town.

In the nearby fields, it is common to spot  wild horses  roaming free. Some local stables offer  horse-riding tours  and lessons. Complete beginners and children are also welcome.

If you want to go  hiking near London , this is also a good region for that. There are many paths nearby with hidden wild swimming spots. A popular place for a picnic and swim is by the  Lymington River  in Brockenhurst. Children especially love the rope swings hung up by locals.

By Eniko of Travel Hacker Girl

30. Saffron Walden

  • Fastest journey time: 50 minutes to Audley End via Greater Anglia . From here, take a taxi or bus to Saffron Walden.

pretty street of half timbered houses

Saffron Walden was once a Suffolk market town, but now it is a picturesque village filled with boutique-style shops, charming cafes and restaurants.

Here are the best places to visit during a day trip to Saffron Walden from London

Bridge End Garden   – Bridge End Garden is best visited when it isn’t raining as the gardens are beautiful. However, the highlight here is the maze, which will keep you amused for hours.

Saffron Grange Vineyard  – The Vineyard is a little out of the town centre, approximately 1.7 miles away. If you book online before arriving, you can join the vineyard tour and tasting. Wine tasting is perfect at any time of the year.

Audley End House and Gardens  – For a small entrance fee, you can explore this grand Estate.

Saffron Walden Town Centre  – Explore the town centre (at weekends you will find great little markets right in the centre). This is a great spot to have lunch or afternoon tea. The restaurants and pubs all serve deliciously fresh food, so you are spoilt for choices. A great little town to explore.

By Paula of  Truly Expat

Best Eurostar Train Trips from London

Day trips from London by train are not confined to England. Thanks to Eurostar, some cities in mainland Europe can be reached from London in under two and a half hours.

>>> Read my review of Eurostar Standard Premier to decide whether it’s worth upgrading your journey

  • Journey time: 2 hours 20 minutes

large elegant building by the side of the river in paris france

Take an early train from London St. Pancras International Station and you are set for a wonderful day in Paris. Trains arrive at Paris Gare du Nord train station, from where you can travel around on the Paris Metro.

What to do during a day in Paris? If this is your first time in the French capital, you should  go up the Eiffel Tower  for a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

>>> SKIP THE LINE & BUY YOUR EIFFEL TOWER SUMMIT TICKET HERE

Then, I suggest spending your time in one district so you don’t waste time navigating the city on public transport.

I recommend  Ile de la Cité , the island in the middle of the Seine River, where most of the historical buildings are located. Visit  Notre Dame  (from outside), the  Sainte-Chapelle  and the  Conciergerie.

Also, you can wander around the medieval streets of this island and watch the typical  Bateaux Mouches  sail by.

By Elisa of World in Paris

  • Journey time: 1 hour 25 minutes

lille france

Lille is one of the most underrated cities in France and an easy day trip from London by train.

Located close to the Belgian border – the so-called capital of French Flanders – Lille feels more Flemish than French, from its architecture to its food.

Due to its compact city centre, it’s a breeze to  explore Lille on a self-guided walking tour .

Walk through its series of large cobblestoned squares lined with extravagant Flemish Baroque buildings. Browse the book market in the Renaissance  La Veille Bourse , formerly the city’s stock exchange, a collection of small houses arranged around a porticoed courtyard.

Pay your respects at the  Notre Dame de la Treille , Lille’s spiritual beating heart and an intoxicating mix of Gothic meets contemporary.

If time permits, stop by the  Palais des Beaux-Arts , a fine art gallery that is second only to the Louvre in France for size and stature.

Finally, don’t leave town before trying  merveilleux , little cakes of light meringue smothered in fresh cream and chocolate shavings.

READ THIS NEXT : One Day in Lille, France: A Free Walking Tour

33. Brussels

  • Journey time: 2 hours

detailed sculpture of figures on a pillar with gable roof buildings in background

Courtesy of Eurostar, a day trip to Brussels from London is both easy and affordable. Take a morning train from London St. Pancras International and in just over two hours you can be munching on waffles in the Grand Place.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the  Grand Place  is the core of Brussels’ medieval city centre and is lined with ornate, late Medieval buildings. This is also home to the city’s  Christmas markets .

For a stark contrast to Brussels’ historic centre, head over to the city’s east side.  Ancient architecture is replaced by sleek skyscrapers, including the headquarters of the  European Union .

For something completely different, take a  comic trail  to discover just how many cartoons were created in Brussels. From The Smurfs to Tintin, Blake and Mortimer to Marsupilami, watch out for the comic

Finally, don’t leave Brussels before sampling one of the excellent Belgian beers and, of course, chocolate.

>>> JOIN A 1-HOUR CHOCOLATE-MAKING WORKSHOP HERE

READ THIS NEXT : One Day in Brussels: Itinerary and Best Things to Do  

Map of Places to Visit Near London by Train

If you find it helpful to map it out, here’s one I made earlier. To take a closer look at these beautiful places near London, simply click here or on the map itself.

map showing the location of best day trips from London by train

Tips for Day Trips by Train from London

  • As many Londoners do not own a car (myself included), expect services to be much busier at the weekend, especially to popular destinations like Brighton. To avoid the crowds, if possible try to visit on a weekday.
  • However, rail improvement works tend to take place on a weekend, particularly on Sundays. Therefore check for  travel disruptions  before you set out. Trust me, a rail replacement bus is not a joy.
  • Rail travel in England can be expensive but buying your ticket in advance will often save you money. For example, if I wanted to travel to Bath today, a return ticket would cost me in excess of £69 (and this would not be the most expensive ticket on this route!). However, the same ticket booked a month in advance is only £23.
  • Consider booking two one-way tickets instead of a return ticket as this can sometimes be cheaper.
  • A railcard can also save you money on train travel. A 16-25 Railcard, 26-30 Railcard, Senior Railcard, Family & Friends Railcard, Two Together and Network Railcard (London and SE only) save you ⅓ on eligible fares.

soldier on horseback in gateway of horseguards PARADE in london

ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE? THEN READ THESE NEXT!

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  • 35+ Epic Things To Do Alone In London
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  • 30 Famous Streets in London You Must Visit
  • 22 Old Streets of London: Historic Roads You MUST Visit
  • 10 Tasty Foods in London That You Must Try

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman is a Londoner who has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at [email protected] or follow her on social media.

day trips london nature

The 10 best beaches less than two hours by train from London

W hisper it: the summer has, it seems, arrived. That means hot, bustling days in London , and a desire to leave the capital to plunge into the sea. All the requisite warnings about bathing quality aside, there is nothing more glorious than a sun-soaked day at the seaside, and, luckily, it isn’t overly difficult to access them from the city. 

What’s more, there’s no need to join the traffic. It’s very easy to reach some glorious beaches effortlessly by train from London. Whether it’s the kitschy delights of Margate or Whitstable in Kent, or the long, sweeping sands of Sussex, it’s possible to ditch the car entirely for a perfect day out. There is just one exception to the rule, by virtue of its isolated location (and entirely worth the journey).

All of these trips, by virtue of their proximity to the capital, can be made in a day, but many – precisely due to their enduring appeal – have beautiful places to spend the night. These are the 10 best beaches to visit from London. 

Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex

For brightly-coloured beach huts and bunting-strung promenades, Walton-on-the-Naze is the place to be. Its seafront is home to a host of amenities ideal for a weekend at the coast: grab coffee and cake from the Naze Tower café, then wander along its pier – the second longest in Britain. A mile north of the beach, the headland is a site of special scientific interest, and its shrubland is noted for containing multitudes of fossils. 

If you are thinking of taking a four-legged friend, it is worth noting that dogs are banned from the beach between May 1 and September 30.

How to get there

Greater Anglia operates trains from London Liverpool Street to Walton-on-the-Naze, with a change at Thorpe-le-Soken. The journey takes an hour and 40 minutes. 

Where to stay

Scandi-style Lifehouse Spa & Hotel , in Thorpe-le-Soken, was a hit with our expert. Rooms start at £229 per night. 

Whitstable, Kent

Whitstable, with its hand-painted shopfronts and fresh fish restaurants, is an archetypal south coast seaside spot. After dipping in the (sometimes rather chilly) sea, wander to Whitstable Castle and explore the 18th-century manor. Or stay on the beachfront and sample the fresh oysters at The Forge (or their scampi with a crisp beer). Open until sunset, it’s the ideal base for people-watching. 

Southeastern trains from London Victoria to Whitstable take an hour and 20 minutes. 

Hotel Continental offers beach-chic rooms with sea views. Rooms start at £126 per night. 

Margate, Kent

Margate has had a revival in recent years, with our expert describing it as “ well and truly on the up ”. While its horizon-defying beach can get busy on the warmest days, it’s an undeniably delightful spot. The train from St Pancras only takes roughly 90 minutes, making it an easy and accessible day out. 

As for the beach itself, wild swimmers will delight in its portioned-off tidal pool: a joy for casual bathers and serious lane swimmers alike. A more nostalgic day out might include a trip to Dreamland , the pastel-pink theme park that boasts rollercoasters and kitsch galore. Further into the town, the eccentric Shell Grotto is a charming diversion.  

Southeastern trains from London St Pancras take roughly 90 minutes, while trains from London Victoria take two hours. 

The chic No42 by GuestHouse offers knock-out views and a buzzy restaurant. Prices start at £190 per night. 

Broadstairs, Kent

If the Margate crush seems unavoidable, try disembarking the train earlier, in Broadstairs. A quieter spot, the town was, briefly, the home of Charles Dickens as he wrote Bleak House . The house in which he stayed now sits on a promontory overlooking the wide expanse of the beach, where Punch and Judy shows reign supreme. 

Selecting a spot on the beach and lying prostrate would be enough for a very pleasant day out. There is plenty to explore in the town itself too, like its 1950s ice cream parlours – try Morelli’s for an unbeatable gelato. 

Southeastern trains from London St Pancras to Broadstairs take one hour and 20 minutes. 

The Bay Tree Hotel is a smart seafront hotel with 10 rooms. Prices start at £70 per night. 

Ramsgate, Kent

Another Kentish delight, one that rewards a simple buckets-and-spades type of day with the family. If the weather isn’t conducive, explore Ramsgate’s wartime tunnels: the UK’s largest network of underground passageways open to visitors. Twin those with the smugglers’ caves, built into the rocks at Pegwell Bay, and you’ll have quite the adventurous day out. 

It is also possible to walk along the coast to Broadstairs from here, meaning you can take in both beaches. Frolic on the sands at Ramsgate, then follow the coastal path along the shore for around 40 minutes – homely, traditional pubs in both towns are ideal refreshment points.

Southeastern trains from London St Pancras to Ramsgate take two hours. 

The stylishly-renovated Albion Hotel offers rooms from £125 per night. 

Dungeness, Kent

The one exception to our rule… Bleak, beautiful Dungeness is the spot to head to for a more eerie day at the coast. This expanse of coastline is Britain’s only desert, but that doesn’t mean it is barren: instead, this strange headland is teeming with wildlife. While not impossible, it is, however, rather difficult to get to by train. A steam railway operates seasonally between Hythe and Dungeness; the more modern traveller is advised to drive.

On arrival, the place to head to is Prospect Cottage (booking essential), the black-larched, one-time home of artist Derek Jarman. Now a creative centre, his beautifully designed garden, sprouting poppies and sea kale from sand and pebbles, is a pleasing diversion on a warm day. For more nature, Dungeness RSPB reserve is home to marsh harriers and lapwings. 

It is best to drive to Prospect Cottage – there is a car park on the right-hand side of the building. Or travel via the miniature railway (more information here ). 

Castaways B&B is situated on the beachfront and has views across to Calais. Rooms start at £90 per night. 

Brighton, East Sussex

Busy, bright, Brighton . It’s an iconic seaside town for a reason, and your best bet is to arrive early and pick up provisions from The Flour Pot or Sugardough bakeries – think exceptional croissants and freshly-baked bread. Wander around The Lanes, then it’s time for the reason you’re here: head to the beach. 

It is, importantly, a stone beach, so towels (or deckchairs) are much advised. Once you have your spot, read, and relax, and swim to your heart’s content. And remember to stick around, as Brighton is best at sunset, when starling murmurations flit over a fiery sea and the pier seems to glow. Stay as late as your train ticket allows, or spend the night in one of the city’s many Georgian townhouses. 

Southern trains from London Victoria and London Bridge to Brighton take roughly one hour. 

The art-filled Hotel Una is one of the city’s best places to spend the night. Rooms from £196. Plan the perfect trip to Brighton with our expert guide.

Littlehampton, West Sussex

Littlehampton, with its mile-long stretch of sand and shingle, is a vision of the British seaside town. With lifeguards on duty in the summer (plus free children’s wristband scheme) it is ideally for a sunny, family day out. 

There are plenty of facilities along the promenade: East Beach café, with its undulating architecture, is a particular favourite. Or for something more traditional, walk inland towards Harbour Park Amusements, where water chutes, arcade games and soft play are bound to be a hit. 

Southern trains run from London Victoria to Littlehampton, taking around one hour and 45 minutes. 

Move slightly inland to Arundel to stay in the medieval mansions of Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa . A night’s stay starts at £315. 

West Wittering, West Sussex

With its serene, grassy dunes and wide open horizons, West Wittering beach, near the mouth of Chichester harbour, is, unsurprisingly, rather busy in the summer. Take a picnic blanket and arrive early to stake a claim in the sand. 

If you’re more adventurous, both West and East Wittering are popular with surfers. Not confident enough to do it yourself? Head to one of the nearby surf schools for equipment and tuition.

Southern trains operate between London Victoria and Chichester. The 52 bus takes visitors from the station to the Old House at Home pub; from there, it is a short walk to the beach. 

The East Walls Hotel is a lovingly-restored Georgian villa in Chichester, with rooms starting from £115 per night. 

Port Meadow, Oxford 

Not all beaches require the sea. Port Meadow, in Oxford’s north-west corner, is a bucolic, open space that is ideal for sunbathing and wild swimming. The banks of the river Thames are flecked with small, sandy coves, which means that on a warm day, wildfowl and visitors make the spot their (very picturesque) base. 

Pick up supplies from the city centre before heading out to the wildflower-filled meadows: just be aware that, as the common is still used for grazing, you might be sharing the space with cattle or wild ponies. 

Great Western operates services between London Paddington and Oxford, taking just under an hour. From Oxford station, Port Meadow is a 20-minute walk. 

The Porterhouse Grill & Rooms Hotel offers hip but unpretentious rooms from £264 per night. Plan the perfect trip to Oxford with our guide.

Recommended

Eight of the best old-fashioned seaside towns less than two hours by train from London

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Walton-on-the-Naze is one of England's many colourful seafronts

Beauty, death and drama: Live bird cams are nature’s soap opera

Bird cam fans tune in for a close-up look at the triumphs and traumas of avian lives.

day trips london nature

On May 21, viewers witnessed a horrifying event in central Iowa: A nest with three eaglets blew out of a tree during a storm. Less than an hour later, a pair of adult bald eagles landed on the empty perch, carrying fish for their young. The concerned parents looked all around for their missing home and chicks.

The spectators were powerless to help. They were watching the tragedy unfold on computer screens far away from the ill-fated aerie. The distance didn’t lessen their urge to assist.

“I reached out to catch the fall, to be honest,” a Michigan birdwatcher wrote on a live chat on the Denton Homes eagle webcam . “I watched in horror, dismay and dread.”

Webcams have been delivering uncensored wildlife and unscripted dramas to nature lovers for more than a decade. The live streams of mammals, birds and marine life became a proxy for travel during the height of the pandemic, when nature was safest viewed through windows and online portals. The free entertainment is still going strong, in part because of the surprise plot twists.

“Some cameras can get millions of collective views. Many people are returning to the cameras daily, and sometimes multiple times a day,” said Mike Fitz, a naturalist with Explore.org ., the live nature cam network that made Fat Bear Week an internet sensation. “When you fall in love with these animals, then you are engaged in their stories.”

Thomas Fenn, a lawyer in Lexington, Mass., spends about two hours a day viewing bird cams, including one set up in his backyard. He watches birds at every opportunity, while at work or stuck in traffic.

“These sites put you in places that maybe you can’t travel to,” Fenn said, “and they’re a great diversion from having to draft a document or put away files.”

Streaming stars with beaks and feathers

The internet is chock full of animal webcams, with birds appearing in dozens of cameras run by private companies, nature organizations, academic institutions and government agencies. The feathered cast members star in about a third of the 190 or so webcams run by Explore.org . After the bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park, the Decorah North (Iowa) eagle cam draws the highest number of viewers. On Memorial Day, about 570 people watched a fledgling butcher a squirrel for dinner.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has used cameras for science since the late ’90s. In 2012, the lab debuted cameras that offered casual observers a look at a red-tailed hawk nest on campus and a great blue heron nest on nearby Sapsucker Woods Pond. The university in Ithaca, N.Y., has expanded to more than a dozen live streams in North America, Panama, Bermuda and New Zealand. The National Audubon Society and its partners run several webcams, including one installed in an Atlantic puffin burrow on an island in Maine and another focused on the million sandhill cranes that layover in Nebraska’s Platte River Valley between winter and spring.

A recent addition to the field is a camera trained on peregrine falcons on Alcatraz Island off the San Francisco coast. Since debuting on May 2, the live stream, a collaboration between the National Park Service and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy , has attracted more than 130,000 users, according to the conservancy. Depending on the minute, viewers might see falcon mom Lawrencium “Larry” gazing out to sea from their cliffside habitat, the two kids tussling over a carcass or chick fluff fluttering in the wind.

“S ince we’ve just started the Alcatraz live camera, we don’t really have a soap opera history of tragedy and broken marriages and whatever else might happen over time,” said Allen Fish, director of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory. “But the job of these live-stream cameras is to offer a window to people who want to have a deeper understanding of the falcons.”

The next few weeks will be peak viewing for species with incubating or hatched youngsters, such as puffins, kestrel, osprey, bald eagles and peregrine falcons. Like a doting parent, the cameras capture all of the baby birds’ milestones and share them with the world.

‘Raw, unfiltered nature’

In the field, birdwatchers often rely on binoculars. Most amateurs don’t have the time or patience to sit and wait for a bump in action. Webcams, however, provide a keyhole to the domestic affairs of birds.

“Folks can see some species fairly easily, depending on where they live, but never that intimately,” said Wayne Klockner, executive director of the American Birding Association . “The cameras trained on nesting birds, when the eggs hatch and the young are getting fed, growing bigger and beginning to test their wings, [are] in real time. This adds an extra dose of compelling nature.”

Many webcam aficionados say they keep the cameras on in the background like Muzak or NPR. When they hear a symphony of birdsong or a heavy-metal screech, they will turn their attention to the screen. But viewer beware: Nature is neither tame nor sanitized.

Klockner recalled a relaxing evening he and his wife spent watching an Allen’s hummingbird in California. The jewel-colored bird was in its wee nest when an uninvited guest swooped in.

“ We witnessed in real time a red-shouldered hawk grab the hummingbird,” said Klockner, who lives on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. “And that was the end of that webcam.”

Sharon Stiteler, a Minnesota-based birder and writer who goes by Birdchick , watches several webcams based on the season. She streams a tropical bird feeder at Canopy Tower in Panama , a mental escape during the harsh winters. She catches the spring migration of the sandhill cranes at Rowe Sanctuary in Kearney, Neb. She also follows a bald eagle camera run by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which had to console heartbroken viewers after a heavy snowfall snapped the branch holding a2,000-pound nest. The sole chick did not survive the crash. More than a year after the incident, the camera is still rolling.

“We are in the process of setting up a new EagleCam and have left the old EagleCam in its original spot, showing viewers the old nest location and occasionally shots of the eagle pair as they visit their old territory,” said Elizabeth Nault-Maurer , communication specialist with the Minnesota agency’s Nongame Wildlife Program.

A number of webcams alert viewers to the possibility of disturbing scenes.

The Friends of Blackwater National Refuge in Maryland warns that its two bald eagle nest cameras will show “raw, unfiltered nature” that could include wildlife interactions and weather disasters. Case in point: On April 3, the video captured a great horned owlet gulping down a whole mouse. The Montana Osprey Project , which is affiliated with the University of Montana and Cornell Lab, warns: “Ospreys are wild birds — they are not pets, and this is not a Disney movie.”

If a bird is in peril, wildlife agencies favor a noninterventionist approach, a position they occasionally have to defend to their impassioned audience. When a bald eaglet at Decorah swallowed a piece of fishing line, Fitz said the staff explained its laissez-faire position to the public. The chick successfully expelled the foreign object.

An Eagle chick in Minnesota did not fare as well. Stiteler said the bird became entwined in nesting material. Webcam devotees implored the DNR to help and grew enraged when the agency did not intercede, even though the nest was not under its purview. Stiteler said some of the viewers even contacted the governor. The agency finally stepped in, but it was too late.

“Anything that gets people engaged with birds or gets them to notice birds is a good thing because that leads to conservation,” Stiteler said. “But sometimes I enjoy the drama that people generate over it more than the drama in the nest.”

Seeing birds in person

Bird cameras are often placed in remote or clandestine locations so visitors won’t disturb the wildlife or the filming gear. The Alcatraz equipment is located in a rocky cranny far from the ferry landing and decommissioned prison building. Denton Homes , the construction company that runs an eagle camera in Iowa, asks the public to respect the privacy of the Majestics, the eagle family that resides on its private property. (After the nest fell last week, Saving Our Avian Resources brought the Denton Three to its rehab facility.)

However, a few destinations showcased on webcams welcome travelers. Taiaroa Head Nature Reserve, home of the Royal cams’ northern royal albatross, offers tours of its seabird colony on New Zealand’s South Island. The Canopy Lodge in Panama, which hosts Cornell’s camera, offers a variety of accommodations and birdwatching tours.

“It’s an eco-tourism destination,” said Ben Walters, communications specialist for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “so you can go visit the lodge and watch the feeder camera in person while you’re eating breakfast.”

Where to go

Our favorite destinations: These 12 destinations are at the top of our wish list for where to go this year, without crowds. In 2023, we explored an Alaskan bear paradise, Brooklyn’s famous pizzerias and a hidden gem in Italy, among other highlights .

Travel like a local: Residents share their favorite places in our top city guides: New Orleans , Rome , Tokyo and Mexico City .

National parks: This comprehensive guide has details on all 63 U.S. national parks. For a deep dive into five of the most well-known, you can listen to the Field Trip podcast . Then explore tips from locals for visiting Yosemite , Glacier and Everglades .

Tales from the road: Dolly Parton has opened a new resort at her theme park complex in Tennessee, while “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines have a new hotel in Waco . Road-trippers may be just as excited to see the cartoon beaver at Buc-ee’s , and bargain-hunters should consider a stop at the Unclaimed Baggage store in Scottsboro, Ala.

day trips london nature

IMAGES

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  2. 22 of the best day trips from London

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  3. 15 Best Day Trips From London You Shouldn’t Miss

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VIDEO

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COMMENTS

  1. 17 Absolute Best Day Trips from London (+ How to Visit, Top Tours & Map)

    Here are the most popular day tours: Dover, Leeds Castle & Canterbury Cathedral - the most popular and best price/quality tour from London. Dover, Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral & Greenwich - quite a full day, but you get to see a lot in a short time. Dover Castle. 13.

  2. Day Trips From London: 100 Places To Explore In 2024

    Nature day trips from London. Experience fresh air and stunning scenery on these day trips from London. You'll even have time to explore some of the UK's breathtaking national parks, some of which lie tantalisingly close to the capital! Who knows - you may even spot some wildlife. 19. Ramble your way through The Cotswolds. 20.

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    17 day trips from London to escape the city. ... If you've got time, head over to RSPB Dungeness nature reserve for a chance to glimpse glossy ibises and marsh harriers - plus the huge ...

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    How to get to Windsor from London: Trains run from London Paddington and London Waterloo twice an hour; the journey takes between 40 and 60 minutes and the Paddington line requires a change at Slough. It's around a 45-minute drive, and there are parking lots near the town center and at the base of the castle.

  5. 22 of the best day trips from London

    The best day trip from London for: getting fully immersed in nature How to get there from London: The train from London St Pancras International to Swale takes 1 hour 50 minutes and then it's a short taxi ride to Elmley Nature Reserve Think of day trips to Kent and you'll probably skip straight over the Isle of Sheppey.Just off the northern coast of Kent next to the Thames Estuary, Sheppey ...

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    Punting, history, and nature, a photographic summary of the historic city of Cambridge. 🗺️ Distance from London: 50 minutes to 1.5-hour train ride from Liverpool St. Station or Kings Cross St. Pancras Station | 📍 Google Maps | Cambridge Website. Cambridge is an incredible city filled with history and green spaces.

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    Cambridge is truly magical and makes for one of the easiest day trips from London by train. 3. Brighton . Drive: 2 hours; Train: 1 hour ; A vibrant seaside town with a pier, the Royal Pavilion, and quirky shopping lanes. If you want a day trip from London by train that takes you to the beach, Brighton is the way to go! 4. York . Drive: 4 hours

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    Forest Holidays run forest bathing day trips in both Blackwood Forest in Hampshire and Thorpe Forest in Norfolk. Advertising. Flikr / John McSporran. 3. Go wild swimming. Swap London's lidos for ...

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  12. 20 Best Day Trips from London

    12. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens is one of the best day trips from London for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The glass-covered outdoor gardens are full of colorful, exotic flowers and trees worldwide, making them a major draw for international tourists.

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    21. Rome, Italy. Just a 2-hour flight from London, history comes alive in the Italian capital, amidst ancient ruins, Renaissance art, and lively local energy. Marvel at the mighty Colosseum, tour the Vatican's galleries, and wander through the Roman Forum's crumbling pillars.

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    Tickets cost £28 for adults and £19.50 for kids, but you get a better deal if there's a group of you, which is definitely worth looking into. Average driving time from central London: 1 hour 15 minutes. Hassle-free option: Tour Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral and Dover with transfers from London.

  15. The 22 Best Day Trips from London

    The best day trip from London for: being surrounded by nature's beauty. How to get there from London: Join a guided tour or drive from London (approx. 2 hours). Escape to the enchanting landscapes of the New Forest for a day of outdoor adventure.

  16. 20 Excellent Day Trips From London

    20 - PARIS. Paris deserves more than a day, but at 2 hours and 15 minutes on the Eurostar, it's a feasible day trip from London. For a great overview of the city, follow day 1 of our 3-day Paris Itinerary. This covers the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe.

  17. Day trips from London

    With numerous rail hubs in the city, these day trips from London range from approximately 25 to 100 miles (40km-160km), are easy to get to by car if you're hiring one, or take between 30 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes by train. ... A blissful blend of nature and urban living, Britain's oldest city was made to explored. Step back in time and ...

  18. 21 Excellent Day Trips From London

    Ben Guerin/Unsplash. Deck chairs. Big wheels. Fish & chips. If you're into these things, you need to go on a day trip to Brighton (and it's only an hour from London). The pier here has been standing for over 120 years now, somehow holding up dozens of arcade games, fairground rides and snack stands.

  19. Try These 10 Best Day Trips From London For Memorable Adventures

    Oxford. Oxford is a known academic opponent of Cambridge and one of the best day trips from London. Oxford University is composed of 38 colleges loaded within the medieval city and full of history, culture, and architecture. Church College is one of the most dramatic and famous university buildings worth checking out.

  20. 13 BEST Day Trips from London by Train (2024 Guide)

    This London day trip favourite is always popular with history buffs visiting the capital thanks to the beautiful architecture, art, and knowledgeable guides. ... Need to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and get back to the nature? Well, a day trip to the New Forest is going to be right up your street. You can get a 90-minute train from ...

  21. The 18 Best Day Trips from London in 2024

    5. Trip to the famous White Cliffs of Dover. Discover the stunning White Cliffs of Dover and explore its historical city centre on a day trip from London. See the iconic cliffs, visit Canterbury - one of England's oldest cities, walk along the picturesque beach and enjoy a two-course lunch in a traditional pub.

  22. London Day Hikes: Coastal, Forest, and Mountain Trails

    Ashdown Forest. Visit Ashdown Forest, a stunning natural forest located in East Sussex and in easy reach of London. You can take a train from London Bridge station to East Grinstead, which takes less than 2 hours. From there, you'll need to take a short bus to the heart of Ashdown Forest, but we promise it's worth the travel.

  23. 33 Easy Day Trips from London by Train

    8. Rochester. Fastest journey time: 40 minutes via Southeastern. From London Victoria (services also leave from London St. Pancras International) Rochester Castle. Rochester in Kent is one of the easiest places to visit near London by train as well as one of the most rewarding.

  24. The 10 best beaches less than two hours by train from London

    Shell Grotto. is a charming diversion. Southeastern. trains from London St Pancras take roughly 90 minutes, while trains from London Victoria take two hours. The chic. No42 by GuestHouse. offers ...

  25. Spotting the danger: toxic plants that look like carrots

    The other day, I had the opportunity to chaperone a school group at a local state park. While on the field trip, a volunteer-led the students on a nature hike through the woodlands. At one point during the hike, the group leader grabbed a handful of two plants to share with the students but in doing so, misidentified one of the plants.

  26. Live bird cams are nature's soap opera

    By Andrea Sachs. May 30, 2024 at 8:00 a.m. EDT. (Emma Kumer/The Washington Post; iStock) 8 min. 32. On May 21, viewers witnessed a horrifying event in central Iowa: A nest with three eaglets blew ...